Shembe faction’s rights coup

2011-05-26 00:00

THE acquisition of intellectual property rights to Nazareth Baptist or Shembe Church rituals and hymns by the small Ekuphakameni faction is the culmination of a battle that has lasted almost 10 years.

The executive committee of Ekuphakameni held a media briefing yesterday in Durban to explain why the step is significant.

It applied for the intellectual property rights in July 2003 and was awarded the certificate on March 4, 2011.

Edward Ximba, Ekuphakameni secretary-general, said this means there is no longer cause for conflict within the church, and it can now focus on the development of the headquarters of the church at Ekuphakameni.

“Everyone is welcome to Ekuphakameni, but they must know that Inkosi Vukile Shembe is their leader and they must respect that,” he said.

This means that millions of members of the eBuhleni faction, the biggest Shembe grouping, has been stripped of the right to hold the annual pilgrimage to the holy mountain of Nhlangakazi in Ndwedwe.

“We are expecting a sum of R20 million from various government departments to begin the first phase of reconstructing the Ekuphakameni National Heritage site by July this year,” Ximba said.

He offered no evidence of the grants.

Ximba said that now that Ekuphakameni has the intellectual property rights, it will be able to build a museum showing the history of the church and a library conwith information about its leaders.

He said declaring the church headquarters a heritage site will acknowledge its contribution to the spiritual growth of the nation.

“The government also acknowledges the role of the church in the liberation of the Africans from the yoke of colonialism and apartheid,” said Ximba.

He admitted his faction still needs to work out how to enforce the intellectual property rights. The aim is to restore the dignity of the church and by 2015 to bid for Ekuphakameni to become a world heritage site, he added.

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