HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has attacked members of the Vapositori (apostolic sect members), for refusing to take their children to school and hospitals, citing it as one of the country’s major draw backs.
Speaking at a ceremony for the official opening of the junior Parliament and the swearing in of the junior president in Harare yesterday, Mugabe said that members of the Vapositori were not forthcoming on the issue of education and medical treatment.
“Yes then, you will also have church dzimwe dzevapositori dzisingadi kuti vana vadzidze, (that do not allow children to go to school) but we have managed to convince others semutumwa wekwaMarange,” Mugabe said.
He said thousands of the church’s denominations gather for the pass over ceremony every year.
“….and at those meetings it’s not always easy to persuade people that to go without education is disastrous in their lives, when they have their bible, their tenets and the principles of their religious group,” he said.
He told the gathering at Parliament building that government had only managed to convince one leader in Marange to send his members’ children to school. He said the Vapositori in that area had taken heed of the call and managed to build schools.
“But that’s only one community, what about the others?” Mugabe queried.
He also attacked Vapositori on their adamant denial to go to hospitals.
“They do not believe also that when a person gets ill he should go to hospital and be treated medically. Vane mvura yavo yavanoti yakanatswa nemutungamiri, ndoyanongonwa. Havamboda kubata kana piritsi rimwe chete, havadi, saka (they drink holy water from their leader. They do not want to take even a single tablet, so) we should do a lot of teaching.
“Kwamutumwa kwatakaenda (with mutumwa) we have succeeded in education but we haven’t succeeded on the other one, yehealth. Those are some of the things that draw us back,” he said.
He added, “We are therefore urging chiefs, traditional and spiritual leaders and other community leaders to sensitise their communities and to encourage our young people to stay in school. We should put the interest of our children first.”
Mugabe’s attack on Vapositori comes following another scathing attack from Prophetic Healing and Deliverance ministries founder Walter Magaya on the way the Vapositori handle spiritual issues.
Magaya alleged that Vapositori were powered by the underworld of the marine kingdom, an allegation they did not take lightly.
One of the Vapositori’s controversial beliefs include child marriages. However, Mugabe yesterday said the government was mulling aligning the country’s laws relating to marriages to forbid the marriage of young people below the age of 18.
“This alignment is in sync with our Constitution,” he said.
He said early marriages had robbed children the valuable experience of childhood, adding that some were being forced into early marriages because they could not proceed with their education due to lack of funds.
“The Multi Indicator Cluster Survey (Mics 2014) reports that 24, 5 percent of girls aged between 15 to 19 years, are currently married or in union, while only 1, 7 percent of boys in the same age group are married or in union.
“The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) 2010 to 2011 also reported that 33 percent of women aged 20 to 49, were married before reaching the age of 18,” Mugabe said.
He said that it was clear that there was need to do more to ensure that the society allows young women to grow and reach their fullest potential.
Yesterday’s swearing in ceremony was conducted as the country also commemorated the Day of the African Child, which is celebrated every year on June 16.
Samuel Nyarenda, a form three student at Mazowe Boys High School in Mashonaland Central was sworn-in as the child president after amassing 48 votes, beating nine other contestants.
The Day of the African Child is celebrated in honour of school children who lost their lives on June 16, 1976, during the Soweto uprising in apartheid South Africa.