Emmanuel Makandiwa is a very powerful preacher who has drawn a huge following to his teachings. It is said his sermons at the City Sports Centre attract up to 15 000 people; multitudes take whatever he says seriously.
Many have claimed they have witnessed him perform miracles; the sick have been healed and blind have been made to see.
His miracles have not always been without controversy, however; he has claimed to make the obese lose weight in a matter of seconds and he has also handed congregants “miracle money”. He also claims his ability to raise the dead and the gift of prophecy.
He is not alone in the new prosperity gospel movement. Zimbabwe boasts about the biggest number of “prophets” per capita. The movement is global, but some of the most powerful preachers are based on the African continent perhaps because Africa, more than any other continent, needs divine intervention in its endless crises.
Post-Christian communities, particularly in the developed world, consider all this to be superstition and have rubbished the prosperity gospel movement labelling it unbiblical and a money-spinning venture.
Makandiwa’s latest prophecy has raised a huge amount of interest. He, this week, prophesied bloodshed resulting from the political crisis gripping Zimbabwe. Like biblical prophecies, it was couched in parable-like language.
That the situation in Zimbabwe is very volatile and can at any time deteriorate into bloodshed is common knowledge which doesn’t need prophecy. NewsDay pointed to this in its editorial of Wednesday this week (Zimbabwe crisis is a crisis of leadership). It said: “The battles being fought in the ruling party are surely dirty wars; soon they will deteriorate further — and God forbid — into open bloodletting.”
The editorial also castigated the fighting within opposition political formations. The argument in the editorial is exactly what Makandiwa’s prophecy avers, namely that the political crisis will turn into open fighting that will leave the streets spattered with blood.
What is most interesting about the prophecy though is that Makandiwa went on to interpret it himself for certain sections of the media. Many scholars of the Bible say the good book says one cannot have both the gift of prophecy and that of interpreting prophecy. In saying this, they cite 2 Peter 1:20 which says: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.” (New International Version)
By interpreting his own prophecy, Makandiwa could have opened himself to manipulation, particularly by politicians.
Indeed, anyone who read his interpretation cannot fail to detect a hidden hand in it all. Makandiwa might well deny this, but the coincidence of the fact that the Zanu PF government has in the past few weeks been responding with a propaganda blitz to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s call for mass action against the government and the timing of the prophecy — which the ruling party’s propaganda machine has used to good effect — surely must raise eyebrows.
Makandiwa faces the real danger of being transformed into a political tool in the internecine fights in the political establishment.