Economic Crisis Behind Holy War

By Sij Ncube

HARARE, November 02, 2015 – A “HOLY WAR” has erupted between Zimbabwe’s two popular evangelists after they were both listed on a phoney 100 list of the country’s perceived influential citizens in 2015 under the age of 40 years.

While the list, which includes little-known journalists, politicians and other so-called celebrities, continues to create controversy and debate, United Family International Church founder Emmanuel Makandiwa and Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Walter Magaya are literally  involved in a spiritual war.

Magaya was listed Number One while Makandiwa Number Three, igniting what analysts have dubbed a “holy or spiritual” war.

Both men of God enjoy unlimited access to the country’s main-stream media but it would seem their similarities end there.

On Friday a group calling itself “Sons and Daughters” published an advertisement in a local daily congratulating Makandiwa for the listing.

“Blessed indeed is the man who hears from God Almighty our Papa Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa,” read part of the advert.

“As sons and daughters of the prophet, we would like to congratulate you for being number 3 on 100 influential Zimbabweans in 2015.”

But on Saturday Makandiwa caused to be published a full-page advert distancing himself from the award, literally casting aspersions about the people behind United Kingdom based organisation behind the obscure accolades.

 “The United Family International Church UFI) would like to disassociate Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and the church at large from an advert (published) on 30 October 2015,” he said in a statement.

“The advert purportedly from the ‘sons and daughters’ to congratulate Prophet Makandiwa for being third in the category of the Most Influential Zimbabweans is the mischievous work of elements bent on tarnishing the image and person of Prophet Makandiwa whilst stroking the greedy egos of some publicity crazy figures.”

His spokesman charged that Makandiwa had in the past been nominated for awards by “local and international organisations of repute such as (New African Magazine)” but had never accepted them.

“The church has never even used its own platform Christ TV to congratulate the man of God as we believe that it is recognition from God that counts more than anything else,” he said.

“It has also to be known that neither Prophet Makandiwa in his personal capacity nor UFIC on his behalf have accepted the nomination and or award because we do not understand what the award is about.

“The basic rule for accepting any award would be to know the standing of the issuing organisation (of which we do not) and to know the basis for the award (of which influence does not suffice because even the devil has influence) and we wish it to be known that it remains an unacknowledged award from our point of view.”

But on his part Magaya has accepted the award. While his inner circle have rubbished claims he was behind the advert congratulating Makandiwa in order to embarrass him, analysts are adamant the development confirms there is no love lost between the two.

Speculation is rife there are machinations between the two “prophets” camps to lure followers as the country’s economic melt-down reaches boiling point with long-suffering citizens turning to penstecontal churches for salvation.

According Karl Marx, region is the opium of the masses, analysts note, so both Makandiwa and Magaya are intent on cashing on their suffering at a time the majority of Zimbabweans in reportedly living on less than a dollar a day.

Rashweat Mukundu, a Harare-based analyst, says the “holy war” is not surprising considering that many of the new charismatic churches are operating as both religious and business entities.

“As such perception of whom they are and what people say about them matters. It is much like business public relations management,” said Mukundu.

But Bulawayo-based analyst believes the seemingly “holy war” may just be a battle of egos and popularity stakes between the two crowd-pulling so-called prophets.

“There is an obsession with becoming popular and lack of corresponding obsession for gospel,” said Nkomo.

Alex Magaisa, a UK-based constitutional lawyer, cast doubt over the credibility of the list of the 100 most influential Zimbabweans, pointing out that no details of the criteria used to measure influence were provided, also adding that no scientific methodology was produced.

“It’s all very funny, actually – the battle of the Prophets, instigated by some chaps running a website who decided to draw up a list of “influential young Zimbabweans” and, never mind the lack of scientific methodology, got many Zimbabweans to believe it. When I see this kind of thing and the many dodgy degrees on offer these days, sometimes I seriously doubt the high literacy figures attributed to my country,” said Magaisa.

“On this one, Makandiwa is probably right to dismiss the phoney list but would he have objected if he had been placed at number 1? And would Magaya have been so gleeful if he had been ranked number 3? The website guys must be chuckling away at all this because this is the moment they have shown they also have influence, even over the “prophets.”