Zimbabwe’s Clergy Shirk Charge Of Complicity In Plunder

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In the run up to the elections, most of these church leaders went under the umbrella of “Pastors for ED,” along with #pastors4ED on social media. At the inauguration, one after the other, these “men of God” took turns to bow before Mnangagwa in a sign of allegiance. As soon as the event at the stadium was over, these pastors joined other selected dignitaries at the State House for a lavish luncheon given by a host whom they congratulated for “winning” free and fair elections. 

Among these dignitaries was a businessman named Uebert Angel (born Uebert Madzanire), Mnangagwa’s ambassador-at-large who in March was exposed by Al Jazeera to be the kingpin of a multimillion dollar gold smuggling and money laundering syndicate. President Mnangagwa’s name was repeatedly mentioned in these shady dealings. 

The other “prophet” there was Emmanuel Makandiwa (born Shingirai Chirume), who recently boasted himself to be more gifted than God. In the run up to the election, he had “prophesied” a landslide victory for Mnangagwa — even threatening to quit if the prophesy did not come true. In the past, he has been accused of swindling some of his followers through these prophesies.

There was also “prophet” Walter Magaya, leader of the PHD Ministries, who is struggling to shirk off rape charges from congregants at his church. He has also been prosecuted for trying to sell a fake HIV/AIDS drug.

God will grant 15 more years for Mnangagwa vote

Not to be outdone, the various African Apostolic Faith churches — some of which are notorious for practicing child marriages, which are illegal under the country’s laws — also jostle to endear themselves to the political elites. In this year’s election, they campaigned under the banner of “Vapostori (Apostolics) For ED” — the different denominations taking turns to host Mnangagwa’s campaign rallies at their shrines and their annual gatherings.

Since the beginning of the year, Archbishop Andby Makururu, leader of one of these sects, was openly campaigning for Mnangagwa, even telling his followers that God would reward those who vote for the 81-year old leader and his ZANU-PF party with 15 more years added to their lives. 

Archbishop Nehemiah Mutendi, the leader of the Zion Christian Church, one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Africa, also campaigned for Mnangagwa and his party. Ezekiel Guti, the leader of one of ZAOGA, another Pentecostal church with presence in 140 countries, who died in July, was declared a national hero by Mnangagwa. He was also known for hobnobbing with the country’s autocratic leaders.

All these prominent church leaders have chosen to adopt a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and say-no-evil attitude toward the country’s misrule, with most of them joining forces with the political elites in the plunder of national resources. In 2020, some of these church leaders were exposed as beneficiaries of the billions of dollars looted from state coffers through loans from the country’s central bank, as part of a corrupt farm mechanization scheme that benefited only those with solid political connections.

This has seen the poor citizens saddled with billions of dollars in public debt. Despite being endowed with vast natural resources, Zimbabwe remains poor, with half of the citizens living in extreme poverty, as public resources are being plundered, hospitals are without supplies and equipment, and some children learn in the open or under trees.

This has prompted some to ask if religious leaders have become complicit in misrule, then who will stand with the weak and poor?

Church leaders deny charges

The Rev. Andrew Wutawunashe, chairman of the Zimbabwe Indigenous Interdenominational Council of Churches, denied accusations that some church leaders are complicit in the misrule and plunder that Zimbabwe is suffering.

“As you can see, President Mnangagwa is genuinely popular,” Wutawunashe told Religion Unplugged in an interview during the presidential inauguration.





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