Keep churches out of politics

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Yesterday we reported that Zanu PF asked Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries (PHD) leader, Walter Magaya and United Family International’s (UFIC) Emmanuel Makandiwa to fund its December conference, raising speculation over its motives.

NewsDay Comment

The party is struggling to raise $3 million needed for the conference after stuttering businesses recently bankrolled First Lady Grace Mugabe’s 50th birthday bash and are finding it hard to chip in. The request to push Magaya and Makandiwa to fund the conference is based on the realisation that perhaps the Pentecostal movement has the potential to bail them out.

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Given the fact that there is ongoing debate over possibilities to tax churches, the Zanu PF request is nauseating to say the least. There is a clear motive to arm-twist those that will not co-operate. It could also be that if they play ball, they may be exempted from paying the taxes.

It is sad how Zanu PF extorts the vulnerable in society by demanding loyalty from influential individuals or organisations.

There is no doubt that the only reason why Zanu PF has extended its begging bowl to churches is simple, they want to use the religious leaders to calm the masses in times of civil strife.

What happened to the separation of church and State? Is it still there? Indeed, large churches could bankroll entire political campaigns and receive favourable treatment from the politicians. Politicians can visit with church leaders and lobby their followers for their campaign support.
Is it not true that Zanu PF has been seeking ways of tapping into these two churches, whose crowds they believe can give them a political edge over their rivals? Evidently, Magaya and Makandiwa’s options are limited. Should they refuse to finance the party, the taxman will be hanging closely and will no doubt pounce on them.

Ironically, PHD has already had a nasty brush with the law after the taxman descended on the church to make sure they collected their share of the day’s takings recently.

It’s quite unfortunate that after failing to find takers for its extravagantly-priced tables at a fundraising dinner scheduled for tonight, Zanu PF have placed their hopes on extorting tithes from poor people. Indeed the churches will find it impossible to refuse the advances, as they might find themselves compromised on many fronts.

Both Makandiwa and Magaya have in the past spoken of their respect for President Robert Mugabe. They both have also gone several steps further, to appease Mugabe and his cronies. Makandiwa donated $10 000 for Mugabe’s daughter, Bona’s bridal party, while Magaya purchased First Lady Grace’s pictorial biography for a whopping $50 000.

Zanu PF has not forgotten. What is heartbreaking is the fact that this money comes into the church’s coffers from thousands of desperate and poverty-stricken Zimbabweans suffering under Zanu PF’s economic mismanagement hoping for one miracle or another, as promised for those that “seed”.

It is no surprise that Zanu PF looks at churches — particularly the white garment ones that sing Mugabe’s praises — to boost its support base. While the white garment churches are good for numbers during elections, the new “prosperity” churches, whose urbane members are more discerning politically, would probably be good for the dollar in times like these.

Because of the tax advantages, it is not inconceivable that the churches would become a primary venue for gathering votes, as political goals are interwoven with spiritual teachings.

The lines of mutual respect between church and State could be erased, as churches become nothing more than overt political mouthpieces during campaign seasons.
So, perhaps Magaya and Makandiwa have brought this to their followers, but they must be allowed to worship free from politics.

Zanu PF must be ashamed of itself.

1 COMMENT

  1. Are not the donations made for the conference “income” as defined for purposes of the Income Tax Act? Should not ZANU PF be taxed on these donations? Could Mr. Pasi advise?

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