When late Ugandan President Idi Amin Dada is seen in the film about
him making several rounds in juju houses, many viewers consider it as
simply giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. This might be true
to some extent if only to accomplish one of the film’s objective – to
portray Amin as a heinous hound who used unscientific means to hang on
But if some Africans are strangers to seeing their highly placed
public officials, especially those in government consult witch doctors,
we in Cameroon are not. And so too are Zimbabweans.
magistrate’s court was recently held speltbound as an enthralling,
albeit nasty story, that sounded more like Hollywood fiction than real,
occupied the court for several hours.
According to press
reports, a medicine woman who conned President Robert Mugabe’s
government out, of about US $1 million by bamboozling ministers into
believing she could tap diesel fuel from a rock has been convicted of
The woman, Rotina Mavhunga, who goes by the alias of
Nomatter Tagirira is said to have found an abandoned fuel tank in the
bush near the northern town of Chinhoyi in March 2007. She filled it
with diesel, attached a pipe to the outlet and concealed it at the top
of a rock, the court heard.
She then summoned a top government
official to witness her “discovery.” At a signal, a hidden accomplice
would open the tap on the pipe and the officials would gasp in
amazement as refined fuel poured down the side of the rock.
cabinet “task force.” dispatched by Mugabe to investigate the claim
returned to declare that Zimbabwe’s persistent fuel shortage were at an
end. Government officials and businessmen lavished money and vehicles
on Mavhunga until several months later, when a second group of
ministers began to express doubt about the woman’s claims.
Ignatius Mugova found Mavhunga guilty of defrauding the government of
500 billion Zimbabwean dollars in the now discarded currency and
misrepresenting to a public that she could conjure diesel from a rock,
according to the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
magistrate also named one of the country’s most powerful civil
servants, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, as an “interested party” in
Mudede who has run the country’s elections since
2000 had supplied 125 liters of diesel each of his several accomplices,
which the “mystic” poured down the rock. When Mavhunga went on the run
from the police, she was hidden and fed by Mudede, Judge Mugova said.
court also heard that many people who visited Mavhunga’s “shrine” were
gullible and were clearly frightened of her alleged spiritual power,
referring to reports that members of the investigating cabinet task
force took off their shoes in her presence and that many went back
several times to consult her spiritual prowess.