Chief Murinye (born Ephias Munodawafa) is a Zimbabwean traditional chief of the Murinye clan in Masvingo. He is most known for his criticism of the corruption in Zanu-PF and the government in 2021.
Chief Murinye is the recipient of a farm near the Great Zimbabwe area which he got from the government.
Chief Murinye owns a transport company which operates long-distance trucks. The company is called E&J Munodawafa (Pvt) Limited. He also owns a trucks company called Zikrag Investments. In August 2020, one of Chief Murinye's trucks was involved in a pile-up accident in Zambia resulting in more than six people being burnt beyond recognition. Reports said that the truck was unroadworthy and operating without a Certificate of Fitness (COF) 
In February 2021, The Standard reported that Chief Murinye was accused of bribing Tongaat Hullets employees to secure transport contracts for the company's products. Asked by a journalist about deposits he had made to the accounts of individuals in key positions at the Tongaat Hullets, including $10 000 to Tsalani Hwizimani (Tongaat logistics manager), Chief Murinye said
It’s nothing new that we have donated to Zimbabwe Sugar Sales (ZSS) employees and other structures. It’s not a secret, at times we buy them food just like most companies do. There’s nothing to bribe for because we already have a contract. We usually give them Christmas presents. This time we gave them early because I would be having serious financial commitments in December.”
Hwizimani confirmed receiving money from Chief Murinye.
Unpaid Labour Dispute
In December 2020, a man named Charles Mathe sued Chief Murinye for US$41 400. Mathe claimed that he worked for Chief Murinye for four years without being paid his salary. In his court documents, Mathe said that he was employed by Zikrag Investments Private Limited.
He also said that Murinye had not gone to court to face trial despite several summonses served on him. When called by The Masvingo Mirror for a comment Chief Murinye said he never employed Mathe and he did not at any one time have an employment contract with him.
The publication said that when it asked Chief Murinye why he was not attending court cases, he responded by saying that the question was not for the reporter but for the Magistrate to ask.
In his court papers, Nathe said that he got a job as a transport and logistics manager at Chief Murinye's company in March 2015. He was supposed to get US$900 per month starting from March 2015 but he worked up to August 2018 without receiving any salary from Zikrag.
In August 2018, Zikrag employed Precious Mtetwa for the same position held by Mathe and notified Tongaat that they should no longer deal with Mathe but the newly appointed Mtetwa and this saw Mathe losing his job.
Mathe said he wrote a letter to Zikrag demanding his salaries but it was not responded to.
As Chief Murinye
Forced Labour & Aid Abuse
In October 2020, villagers in Murinye communal area in the northeastern parts of rural Masvingo accused Chief Murinye of forced labour and denying some of them food aid.
The villagers from Boroma wrote to the President of the Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council Fortune Charumbira seeking his intervention.
They accused Chief Murinye of forcing them to mould bricks and cut thatching grass meant to build his new homestead he forcibly occupied.
The villagers also accused him of forcing them to pay US$20 per homestead to receive food aid.
Part of the villagers' letter to Chief Fortune Charumbira read:
"Chief Murinye is currently settling in the Kyle Game Park at a site which was previously allocated to Great Zimbabwe University for its campus but was later abandoned because it was too close to the dam and the game park.
We are now in shock to see the chief constructing houses at the very same site. We seek your clarity Hon Charumbira as to what is the exact position regarding that piece of land.
We all know that our supreme law, the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 Act 2013 is totally against forced labour.
Again, the same constitution mandates everyone including the Chiefs through your esteemed office to respect, protect and uphold it as the grand norm of our land.
We are sad to report to you that contrary to the dictates of the law, chief Murinye is forcing villagers to mould bricks, gather thatching grass and stones among other laborious activities. All these for his benefit."
In 2009 Chief Murinye's brother, Milton Munodawafa approached the courts seeking an order to have Ephias Munodawafa's appointment as chief nullified. Milton argued that the customary principles of succession to the Murinye chieftainship were not observed nor given due consideration in the appointment Chief Murinye. Milton said that according to the customs and regulations guiding the Murinye chieftainship, the eldest son of a house that would have been nominated to second a chief should assume the chieftainship.
He approached the courts again in September 2011 and then again in 2015. High Court judge, Justice Amy Tsanga dismissed the matter judging that the dispute was supposed to be resolved by the appointing authority, The President of Zimbabwe, before being elevated to the high court. She argued that "the remedies provided in s283 c (i) & (ii) of the new Constitution" had not been exhausted.
In May 2017 Milton’s lawyer Advocate Webster Chinamora wrote to Minister of Rural Development and Preservation of Culture and Heritage Abedinico Ncube asking for his assistance in asking the provincial assembly of chiefs for Masvingo to convene a meeting over the dispute surrounding the Murinye chieftainship.
Suing Econet for defiling graves - 2012
In 2012, Chief Murinye and Chief Mugabe (Matubede Mudavanhu) took Econet Wireless to court for allegedly defiling a traditional shrine by exhuming human remains and destroying relics while installing a base station at a local hill called Sviba Hills. According to the chiefs the hill was a burial site and a place of ancestral worship for the Duma people. The chiefs said Econet’s actions were a violation of the rights of the Murinye and Mugabe people and the entire clan of the Duma.
Endorsing Robert Mugabe's Ouster
Speaking at a solidarity rally at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield on 17 November 2017, Chief Murinye endorsed the coup that ousted Robert Mugabe. Murinye said:
"We hail the ZDF for the intervention to stop an economic, social and political crisis yanga yakonzerwa nevana vadiki vasina kuona hondo ava. This development will see us discharging our mandate without fear or coercion. It is our hope that the economy will soon take shape. ome politicians were interfering with how we worked. Ndosaka tauya pano kuti vanhu vakadaro vabudiswe musystem zvachose."
Accusing Zanu-PF leadership of corruption - 2021
In December 2021, speaking at the funeral of Elson Gonye, the head of Pay and Benefits Development and Management Agency who died of Covid-19 related complications in December 2021, Chief Murinye said that Emmerson Mnangagwa would lose the 2023 presidential elections if he did not stop his people from looting.
Following the criticism, chiefs were summoned to a meeting by President Mnangagwa which was also attended by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga on 17 December 2021. At the meeting Chiwenga castigated & threatened Chief Murinye:
What we have seen in the past few days is never done. This thing of just standing up to say whatever you feel to the paramount chief (Mnangagwa) is never done. It’s done by people high on mutoriro (crystal methamphetamine). In this country it’s never done.
We have one Munhumutapa (Mnangagwa), we have one leader and it is that leader we give respect. It is that leader we show the entire nation what respect is all about. So, what has been done by Chief Murinye is going to be investigated by the minister of local government and the Chiefs’ Council and if found guilty, disciplinary action would be taken.
This is Zimbabwe. I thought I should say this, I respect Munhumutapa (President Mnangagwa) and no one touches him as long as I live.”
The chieftaincy is given, and the chieftaincy can also be withdrawn.
On 18 December several audio files purportedly created by Chief Murinye in communication with unknown people circulated on social media. In the audio files, Chief Murinye notes some cases of corruption but says that he would get audience with President Mnangagwa whom he was loyal to. He said he would let the president know the people who destroying Zanu-PF a party he is loyal to.
It was later reported that Murinye's rant followed frustration over the looting of gold and chrome by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cronies.
- Remove sanctions, Chief Murinye tells US envoy, The Herald, Published: 8 Nov 2018, Accessed:18 Dec 2021
- Bigwigs in Messy Sugar Tender Storm, The Standard, Published: 3 February 2021, Accessed: 18 Dec 2021
- Increase Gumbo, Chief Murinye sued for US$41 400, Masvingo Mirror, Published: December 17, 2020, Retrieved: December 20, 2021
- Tonderai Saharo, Villagers rebel against chief over forced labour and aid abuse, NewZimbabwe.com, Published: October 16, 2020, Retrieved: May 9, 2020
- , High Court of Zimbabwe Judgement in the case between Ephias and Milton Munodafawa, Published: 18 May & 24 June 2015, Accessed: 18 Dec 2021
- Two Masvingo chiefs take Econet to court, The Herald, Published: 15 Oct 2012, Accessed: 18 Dec 2021
- Chiefs blasts Mugabe, The Zimbabwe Mail, Published: November 18, 2017, Retrieved: April 6, 2022
- Chiwenga issues chilling threat to chief as Mnangagwa panics over criticism, ZimLive, Published: DATE_PUBLISHED_HERE , Accessed: 18 Dec 2021
- Minerals looting sparked Chief Murinye’s outburst, The NewsHawks, Published: December 25, 2021, Retrieved: January 17, 2022