With the pulling power of the country’s charismatic church leaders now firmly established, warring post-congress Zanu PF bigwigs are stampeding to the gatherings of popular prophets.
The First Lady Grace Mugabe, vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, a number of Cabinet ministers and scores of ruling party legislators are due to attend Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Walter Magaya’s “Turnaround Night” crusade in Harare on Friday.
Grace, who is expected to market herself to the tens of thousands of people set to attend the crusade, is currently on a “national crusade” of her own, seemingly campaigning against Mnangagwa’s chances of replacing President Robert Mugabe as Zanu PF leader.
There were also suggestions yesterday that the controversial first lady may also attend the United Family International Church(UFIC)’s service next week, as she continues to market herself to wary and politics-weary Zimbabweans.
Makandiwa and Magaya command two of the biggest religious followings in Zimbabwe, with analysts saying given their popularity, it was not a surprise that politicians were stampeding to work with them and use their platforms to energise their presidential and other leadership aspirations.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources also told the Daily News yesterday that a host of Cabinet ministers as well as more than 100 Zanu PF legislators were scheduled to attend the Magaya service. In one PHD invite to a Zanu PF MP that the Daily News saw, Magaya alluded to Grace’s attendance at the service, whose aim is “to change the spiritual, physical and economic aspect of human lives as this shall be a night of turnaround”.
“We are humbled to share with you that our esteemed guest of honour for the event is Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Amai Dr Grace N Mugabe,” reads part of the invitation.
This was the reason, the legislator who spoke to the Daily News said, it was expected that many Cabinet ministers and MPs would stampede to the crusade given the first lady’s power and influence in the warring ruling party.
“There is no doubt that every minister and MP will be there because that is the way things are (in Zanu PF) at the moment,” the legislator said.
But Zanu PF women’s league national spokesperson, Monica Mutsvangwa — who is alleged to belong to the Mnangagwa camp, and also said to be opposed to Grace’s presidential ambitions — expressed ignorance of the first lady’s attendance at the crusade.
“Go and get information from the people who gave you the story, I am not aware of that,” Mutsvangwa said curtly when approached for a comment.
As part of the invitation to the crusade, the legislators are also being given Magaya’s popular anointing oil and stickers, and are being asked to be at the venue of the mega all-night prayer by 8pm on Friday.
If Grace does pitch up at the crusade, this would be the first time that she would be attending one of Magaya’s services. It also follows the popular preacher’s recent attendance at her birthday bash, where he purchased her biography for a cool $50 000.
Magaya expressed his delight at meeting Grace for the first time at her Harare bash, saying he would support the “philanthropic work” that she was doing in Mazowe.
The crusade invitation letter also chronicles the origins of the fast-growing church and describes Magaya as the “owner and executive producer of Yadah TV, a free-to-air gospel channel through which his sermons and teachings are aired and viewed by over 400 million people in over 145 countries worldwide”.
The letter also claims that the “Night of Turnaround is going to be a powerful life-changing night not only for Zimbabwe as a nation but also the region, continent and the globe”.
Ironically, Mugabe recently attacked the country’s prophetic churches saying most of them were not genuine.
“Some of these churches are using the Bible to generate cash with it. Anyone who has no job … they are now just starting a church,” he said while addressing government officials and legislators during a luncheon hosted by the Local Government ministry after the official opening of Parliament in September.
“They will say I read here in the Bible and it says I should start a church. They just use one verse in the Bible and they use it, use it like nothing,” he added.
Still, it has become a norm among post-congress Zanu PF officials and the First family to visit churches seemingly to lure them into supporting their political careers, with Mugabe himself an avid “follower” of the apostolic sects.
Mnangagwa has also recently joined the bandwagon, visiting Madzibaba Wimbo’s shrine where he underwent some bizarre rituals, allegedly to seek direction on how to ascend to the presidency.