The Sunday Mail
While Christmas wishes are diverse, they are a glimpse into the innermost desires of the heart.
In most cases, they are material. After all, Christmas comes once a year.
For incarcerated RMG End Time Message founder, Robert Martin Gumbura’s 11 wives, 33 children and four grandchildren, all they want for Christmas is to spend a few minutes with him.
They have so much to share with him, he has been gone for long and has missed out on a lot.
Gumbura’s last born child, who was still tucked in the belly of his mother when his father was convicted of rape in early 2014, is now a bubbly two-year-old.
The girls and boys are turning out to be fine and incisive ladies and gents, with most of them now in high school. Some of them have taken a liking to music.
For those who are majors and fortunately the majority, Santa Claus will deliver their wish to spend part of the Christmas holiday with daddy. All they have to do is present themselves at the Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare, national identity card in hand.
Unfortunately for the minors, they might have to wait a few more years before that can happen.
Heartbreaking, isn’t it?
The pain is evident in the eyes of three young girls, presumably around 15 years old, as they are regrettably told by the prison guards manning the entrance that they are not yet old enough to enjoy the privilege.
“Seeing daddy will make our Christmas, that’s all we need,” Tinevimbo Gumbura told The Sunday Mail yesterday during the family’s visit to Chikurubi.
Her voice had an intense longing that tore at this reporter’s heart, nostalgia written all over her face.
There were about 20 such faces. One of Tinevimbo’s siblings was holding a large Christmas cake while the others were holding plastic bags full of various goodies.
Head of this particular delegation was one of their loving mothers – Queen Bunga – who had ferried them to the prison in a family commuter omnibus while one of the older children was driving his peers in a Toyota Surf. As soon as Tinevimbo had uttered those words, in the process letting The Sunday Mail and subsequently the whole country into her heart, one of her unidentified elderly sisters interjected, compelling her to draw back into her shell.
“Chii chauri kupindura ipapo? Nyararai mese,” she said with intense venom.
One can easily understand. Their father was convicted of four counts of rape in February 2014 and is currently serving his effective 40-year jail term.
Today is the third Christmas without him and it definitely cannot be easy for the family.
One of Gumbura’s sons, Titus, whispered to The Sunday Mail, “Every holiday we do this. We really look forward to these visits. We might come back to visit again tomorrow (today). We miss mdhara at home.”
While the kids might have to forgo the spoils that their father had accustomed them to every year before becoming a guest of the State, his wives also have to forgo a lot, sexually.
“We are not enjoying our conjugal rights, there is no such thing in Zimbabwe,” said the wives’ spokesperson, Bunga.
“This is one thing that women’s organizations might have to lobby for so that it can be debated in Parliament. Maybe if there was some organization representing the interests of imprisoned people’s wives, we would do that on our own.
“We cannot have a situation where a man is imprisoned and it marks the end of his conjugal rights with his wives.
“This is not something that is even remotely understood by many people. When you talk about this, most people will simply tell you to move on and find another husband. That is not what we want because we are waiting for our husband and therefore we need to be given that option to enjoy our conjugal rights while he is in jail,” she bemoaned.
Unfortunately, there won’t be any such Christmas treat for the incarcerated cleric’s wives for a long time to come. A very long time actually.
Zimbabwe Prison Correctional Services acting public relations officer Superintendent Priscilla Mthembo said conjugal visits are not permitted in Zimbabwe and do not even feature in their plans at the moment.
“As you may be aware, conjugal visitations require special accommodation structures which we do not have. Our priority at the moment is to refurbish the old structures we have that were built during the colonial era.
“Our goal right now is to make our structures meet international standards. Either way, we do not have legislation that allows conjugal visits in place,” she said.
But despite this setback, for the past three years, Gumbura’s wives have remained loyal to him, paying him visits religiously.
In fact, around Christmas time, he becomes a very busy man as his wives, children, relatives and church members take turns to visit him.
Yesterday, his first batch of visitors, mostly his children, arrived at the Maximum Prison just before noon. His other wives were expected to come knocking on his door soon after lunch.
When The Sunday Mail sought to interview the family at their Harare residence, the publication was told that was an impossibility considering “the hectic schedule of the visits to prison, especially during this period of the year”.
Bunga revealed that ever since their husband’s incarceration, all the 11 wives have stuck together.
“Actually, we are all staying together at the same house. We used to stay at different locations prior to this but we have since discovered that we need each other now more than ever. Plus it’s cheaper for us to be on the same place,” she explained.
“We have been working really hard on our projects at the farm to fend for the family and send the children to school. We are growing maize at our farm in Chinhoyi and rearing livestock, we are managing just fine,” she said.
As you read this, Robert Martin Gumbura might be digging into his Christmas cake, away from his loyal and loving family, missing them a lot of cause.