ONE did not have to possess prophetic powers to see that First Lady Grace Mugabe would rope in the usual suspects — the apostolic sects (or vapostori, as they are known in Shona) — as she bids to take over the ruling party, Zanu PF, and eventually the government itself.
By CONWAY TUTANI
It’s now established that Grace has unbridled political ambitions, destroying everyone and everything in her path. Nothing — practically nothing — of any political magnitude can go ahead without her say-so, as she is now the de facto President of Zimbabwe.
Read a report this week: “First Lady Grace Mugabe has organised a massive campaign rally, possibly early next month, with members of various apostolic sects … in Harare, as she spreads her tentacles ahead of the Zanu PF extraordinary congress set for December this year.”
One does not need to have great deductive powers to see that it’s primarily about Grace — not Zanu PF, not the nation — despite a vapostori official being coached to say this about the purpose of the rally: “We basically want to thank the President for the peace in the country … and for allowing us the freedom of worship we are enjoying in the country.”
We know that this all a subterfuge to give Grace all the leeway to further her individual — not party, not national — interests.
We have been down that road before with Grace advancing her political agenda under the guise of so-called Zanu PF youth interface rallies, which she has been using as a platform to attack without restraint, and even reckless abandon. The politics of resentment coming from her cannot be a governing philosophy.
Despite all this uncensored bad taste and toxicity, vapostori are — once again — going to be willing accomplices in sordid partisan politics. It’s not surprising, but most disappointing that they refuse to see what is happening for what it is.
They are blinded by this extravagant admiration for people in power as seen in their heroisation of Grace when she has done nothing to talk about for the vapostori for them to celebrate her.
Instead, vapostori should be asking themselves if Grace is really that motherly person caring for orphans, or — as the villagers being evicted to pave wave for the expansion of her already vast business empire will testify — actually stepmotherly for being malicious and hostile. Kindness and cruelty are mutually exclusive. They cannot co-exist on the same CV.
Vapostori should be asking whether it was charitable for Grace to distribute goods seized by the State from vendors and distribute them at her rallies. Vapostori should be asking why Grace spits such venom against political opponents within and outside Zanu PF.
They should be questioning if she is really that genial or is as violent as they come as seen in her handiwork on that battered and bruised young South African woman.
All in all, is it Christian to do such things? If not, then they should remonstrate with her like the biblical prophets instead of cheering her on.
When she addresses them in a gentle way (as she will be on her best behaviour for such an audience), they should ask themselves whether she is just being genteel, that, is being polite and refined in an affected or exaggerated way, putting up a show for effect.
And invariably these vapostori leaders have been religious enablers of repression. They give spurious theological justification to tyranny saying President Robert Mugabe is God-ordained.
It’s a contradiction in terms to say an elective position is divinely-ordained. Vapostori leaders are no different from the white clergy in South Africa, who endorsed apartheid as the natural order of God’s arrangement.
But then because of the cultish nature of apostolic sects, many — if not most — of these apostolic sect members are not their own persons. They tend to rely entirely on their leaders to tell them what to do, say or how to feel. They tend to live through their leaders. There is misuse of followers on the part of the leaders. It’s like they are servants in the relationship with their leaders. For all intents and purposes, they are owned by their leaders.
Exploiting this servitude, the organisers of Grace’s rally have roped in Zion Christian Church leader, Nehemiah Mutendi, a staunch Zanu PF supporter, to be the master of ceremonies at the rally, knowing church members would want to be there without fail.
Vapostori suffer from groupthink in that whatever their leader says is their command. The leader becomes the one centre of power like Mugabe. When you become part of such cults, they de-individualise you; critical thinking is replaced by pathological psychological dependency on the leader. The result is that you follow blindly like sheep.
But, for a healthy state of affairs, there should be reciprocity between the support you give others and that which you receive from them. Observes Elliot D Cohen (PhD), a clinical psychologist: “In this balanced state, you may be actively involved in helping others thrive, but not to the exclusion of helping yourself to live contentedly. You know where to draw the line between healthy helping and becoming a slave to others.”
Well, we see that in the way some people give large amounts of money to churches enriching pastors and leaving themselves struggling to pay bills. That’s what happens when people try to please others or get their approval in order to validate their self-worth.
People need not be intimidated, threatened or over-awed by the church leader into doing what they don’t want to do and what is beyond their capacity.
And they should not be afraid to try new things — like changing churches or shifting political support. There is honour and dignity in being one’s own person, to be free from restrictions, control or dictatorial influence.
You don’t have to belong to anyone or anything. To be your own person requires independence of thought, feeling and action — and who more than Jesus exemplified that?
As we head to the 2018 elections, Christians — not just vapostori — should not follow their leaders blindly like sheep because some church leaders have sold their souls to the regime to get the votes in churches at any and all costs.