On a typical Friday evening, Zindoga Shopping Centre in Harare’s Waterfalls suburb presents captivating, though contrasting, scenes.
Hundreds of revellers descend on the centre for beef, sausage, chicken and zvihuta (quail) braai, beer and booming outdoor as well as nightclub music. The famous pole dancer, Beverly Sibanda, is a common feature at one of the clubs.
This club is separated from the Prophetic Healing Deliverance (PHD) Ministries church by the busy Beatrice Road that connects Harare with the Beitbridge border port, some 500km away.
Thousands of miracle-seeking congregants gather at the church on this day amid booming music, cheers and ululations in homage to their “father”, Prophet Walter Magaya.
The script is more amusing than that. Scores of se_x workers mill around the drinking places and also lurk along the dark roads, getting picked up by the occasional se_x-mongering husband or bachelor.
They used to endure running battles with, and taunts from some of the PHD patrons after the Friday sermons, but that has died down somewhat.
Their trick? They now spare two or three hours of worship at the PHD church and return to their business once the service is over, mostly after 9pm.
For them, there is nothing sinful about pr_ostitution, and they insist their prophet has never told them that commercial se_x work is wrong.
One of these ladies of the night is Monalisa, who will, of course, give you a different name on the second encounter.
She resides in the nearby Parktown suburb and used to be part of Bervely’s dance group and joined PHD ministries when her leader did so a couple of years ago.
When Beverly quit the church and went back to night dancing in 2014, Monalisa stuck not only with the church, but also her profession.
Without any qualms, Monalisa reveals to this reporter that she started dating one of the pastors at the PHD ministry on her first day at church.
The married pastor (name supplied) lives in Hatfield, some eight kilometers away, and earns his money through sign-writing. They broke up when she discovered that the pastor had asked her younger sister for se_xual favours.
“What’s the fuss? Everyone is going to PHD ministries for the miracles. Some of the people who occupy high positions there come for beer in the night clubs after church services and pick us up for short time encounters also. They are going out with married and unmarried women alike,” said Monalisa.
If the stories about adultery in the church are indeed true, Revelations 21:8 is ominous for the PhD ministry. It says: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death”.
Accusations of adultery have also been flying thick and fast against the church leader, Magaya. In late 2014, Beverly, a single mother who has courted all sorts of controversy for her se_xual dances and relationships with men, revealed on a local radio talk show that Magaya had had a go at her.
Magaya invited her into the PHD church just after its formation, gave her money to start a modest retail business, complete with promises of further cash support and a car. This got Zimbabweans talking and many wondered why the prophet was giving her such unusual favours.
Church spindoctors came to their leader’s defence, insisting that the prophet had rescued a sinning woman. Well, in Luke 7:36-50 in the New International Version (NIV), Jesus forgave a prostitute, so the argument went.
The difference, though, is that no-one has ever accused Jesus Christ of fornication or adultery. Not even Simon who questioned why he had anointed the feet-licking pr_ostitute.
Bervely left the PHD ministry after a short stint, vowing that she had to go back to her di_rty dancing because she could not live on miracles alone. Magaya had stopped giving her the earthly material support, she sulked.
She is not alone in claiming adulterous tendencies on the part of the PHD prophet. Just last month, another former female worshipper, Angela Charakupa, instituted a $500,000 adultery demand against the man of the cloth.
Charakupa is insisting that Magaya must pay her that amount as damages for reneging on an earlier promise to marry her and wasting her time. She alleges the two were in love for some time but the prophet abandoned her for other women.
Magaya’s church says Charakupa is being used in a smear campaign by rival churches, particularly the traditional ones which PHD Ministries perceives are riled that he is taking away their followers.
Online media are currently running taped recordings of her alleged conversations with Magaya and his famous spiritual father, TB Joshua of Nigeria.
In one of the tapes, a person whose voice sounds like that of Magaya is heard flirting with her as he vows his love for her.
But it is the TB Joshua link that has baffled many. A man with the world-famous prophetic healer’s voice can be heard promising her a ticket to travel to Nigeria but the caller is too cautious to express his intention.
Charakupa, who reportedly leaked the tapes, complains bitterly to the Nigerian prophet that Magaya has abandoned her and is avoiding her.
Something dramatically similar happened in yet another adultery scandal involving Magaya in 2014.
A Harare man, Denford Mutashu, had filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Magaya at the High Court, alleging that the prophet had caused him pain and humiliation for having a love affair with his wife, Nomsa Ruvazhe.
She had spent a long time at Magaya’s healing lodges after experiencing a series of marital problems with Mutashu.
The husband, however, dramatically withdrew the charges after travelling to Nigeria to meet TB Joshua in the company of Mutashu, after a call from the prophet.
The Nigeria spiritual father paid for the trip, Mutashu admitted, and some say TB Joshua brokered the peace between the two love rivals and persuaded Ruvazhe’s husband to accept a $150,000 out-of-court payout.
Yet another PHD Ministries worshipper identified as Pastor Max has in the past accused Magaya of trying to have a go at his wife.
The wife reportedly told Pastor Max that Magaya was pestering her with sexual advances and he was also said to have received a call from TB Joshua to stop making public noise. Pastor Max is no longer worshipping at Magaya’s church.
Could all this be the work of people infiltrating PHD Ministries so as to tarnish Magaya? Is this the proverbial smoke that carries fire? Only time will tell.