The Sunday Mail
Online News Editor
The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, a grouping of non-governmental organisations which fight for women’s rights in the country, on Friday called for a commission of inquiry into the several sexual allegations being made against Prophet Walter Magaya.
The coalition said the inquiry should be broadened to include the Zimbabwe Republic Police, senior politicians and the media, all who have been complicit in covering up the said allegations against the man-of-cloth.
The Sunday Mail Editor, Victoria Ruzvidzo, was approached by emissaries of the prophet on Saturday July 6, who offered her US$1 000 to drop the story of Sarah Maruta and Charity Dlodlo.
“I was approached by a fellow journalist who offered me US$1 000 to drop the story. When I told him the section that carried the story has already gone to print, he went on to suggest if we could sell The Sunday Mail without the said section. When I told him it was not possible, he proposed we should not put the story on our street billboards.
“Getting into my nerves, I told him that I do not take bribes at all and I am not that kind of journalist easily swayed by money,” narrated Ruzvidzo.
Similar financial overtures were made to The Sunday Mail, in the aftermath of the publication of the Maruta and Dlodlo story, to drop publication of follow-up allegations.
Addressing the Press briefing, Ms Ronika Mumbire, said the coalition was not accusing the prophet of any wrong-doing, but that the several allegations that have been made against Magaya are worrisome, hence the need for an inquiry to establish if he is guilty or not.
“We are not saying the prophet is guilty, but what has worried us as women is that there is a pattern to the accusations, as well as another pattern to the rebuttals by the victims.
“Is he the only prophet in the country? Why is he the only prophet facing such allegations? And why are all the victims withdrawing the allegations in a similar manner? These are issues that we are seized with and worried about,” said Ms Mumbire.
She said the coalition had written to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the Gender Commission, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the Parliament of Zimbabwe and various other stakeholders, so that an inquiry be set up to investigate the several allegations.
“We have been engaging several stakeholders, offline, and we are encouraged by the responses we have received so far and as new developments emerge, we will advise the nation. As of now we are seized with the matter and would like Magaya to clear his name,” she said.
“But because there have been several accusations of cover-ups, we are saying the inquiry should not be limited to Magaya alone, but also our national police, the media and politicians, some of whom have been accused of being complicit in covering up for the prophet,” she added.
Given the serious nature of the allegations, Ms Mumbire said there will come a time when it should be necessary to name and shame those who might have been complicit in covering for Magaya, especially journalists, as they are supposed to be watchdogs of society.
When asked if the behaviour by the women who turned around and denied the allegations, could have been driven by extortion, Ms Mumbire said it is such labelling of women that might be driving some victims away from coming out in the open.
“We are aware some victims might be afraid to come out, because of such labels or even societal or family pressures, reason why we will be providing psycho-social counselling as well as security to those who are willing to come out. We have also opened a bulk SMS platform and a toll-free number so that we have as many victims come forward,” she said.