CHIEF Murinye, Ephias Munodawafa, who torched a storm last week after urging President Emmerson Mnangagwa to tackle corruption among his close allies and family members, is well-known for speaking his mind despite being a traditional leader, but his rant followed frustration over the looting of gold and chrome by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cronies, The NewsHawks has learnt.
Murinye’s speech at a funeral in his area forced Mnangagwa to call a meeting with chiefs where threats were issued by authorities in order to avoid similar occurrences.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga threatened the chief with disciplinary action for speaking against Mnangagwa, saying he was Zimbabwe’s paramount chief, “the great Munhumutapa”.
“We have a Munhumutapa (Mnangagwa), we have a leader and it is this leader that we respect. It is this leader that we are showing the whole nation what respect is. Thus, what was done by Chief Murinye will be investigated by the minister of Local Government and the Council of Chiefs and, if found guilty, disciplinary action will be taken,” Chiwenga said.
“This is Zimbabwe. I thought I should say this, I respect Munhumutapa (President Mnangagwa) and no one touches him while I live.”
Chiefs in Masvingo, however, told The NewsHawks that Murinye had nothing to apologise for, since he was airing frustrations shared by the majority of people under his jurisdiction.
They revealed that people close to the President were enriching themselves by grabbing gold and chrome claims.
They also said Mnangagwa’s associates were enriching themselves at the expense of ordinary people through corruption, hence the outburst by the chief. The traditional leaders said Murinye is known as a person who always speaks his mind, even in chiefs’ meetings.
They said it is unfair to link his speech to any political faction since it is always his tradition to speak fearlessly against injustice.
“This is an issue which l can talk to you anonymously about. You know this is now a hot issue. I think people are not ready to be told the truth. Murinye is known for speaking his mind, he is that kind of person who cannot hide his mind because of fear or something. This is known by all chiefs that the guy can even stand up and tell anyone regardless of his or her status that he will not accept his proposal with reasons. We are used to it and this corruption issue is something we always witness happening in our areas, so l don’t see any reason to blow this issue out of proportion,” one chief said.
Another chief said: “We are witnessing how people are living in abject poverty, while leaders loot resources on a daily basis.
“The issue of corruption is the one which is killing our economy . . . Murinye did nothing wrong, and l know you are aware of the cabal which is known for looting minerals in our province. We are aware of what is happening as traditional leaders and it is only a matter of time, we cannot be quiet forever.”
In his outburst, Chief Murinye complained that people close to Mnangagwa were grabbing minerals and said the President’s sons should be reined in.
He also complained about the looting of gold at Wondedzo Hill in Masvingo North by the President’s relatives, associates and members of the security establishment.
The NewsHawks extensively covered the gold rush at Wondedzo Hill in March, which culminated in villagers protesting against the looting, prompting riot police officers to fire shots. The community was barred from mining at the hill, but syndicates linked to minister of State for Masvingo Ezra Chadzamira were allowed to continue extracting gold ore.
President Mnangagwa’s close relatives, Zanu PF provincial members and members of the uniformed forces were also looting gold at the hill. Chadzamira and Mnangagwa’s sons have been linked to the looting of gold and chrome at several places in the province, including Mashava and Bhuka.
There was also an uproar after their runners looted gold at a farm near Mutendi Estates earlier this year. Hundreds of tonnes of stolen Pfumvudza inputs were this week discovered in Masvingo and Chiredzi, a development which exonerated Chief Murinye as it emerged that the loot was earmarked to be used as a campaigning tool at a time the ruling party is about to hold its provincial elections.
Former MDC Alliance member of Parliament for Masvingo West Jefferyson Chitando told The NewsHawks that Murinye cannot be linked to opposition politics since he used to clash with him when he was still a legislator.
“I clashed with this man several times and we are from the same area. He is from Mutusva area and at one time he wanted his subjects to dig a trench of water from Mutirikwi to his area, a move which l opposed. At one time he wanted to fine me beasts for hosting a rally in the area so it is difficult to link him to opposition politics but things can change maybe he is now seeing the light,” Chitando said.
In his outburst, Murinye said he is a Zanu PF supporter, but warned that Mnangagwa would not win the 2023 elections if corruption continues.