By Byron Mutingwende and Patricia Mashiri
The government of Zimbabwe recognises the centrality of churches to the social, political and economic development of the country and supports freedom of worship, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Makhosini Hlongwane, the Minister of sports, recreation, arts and culture made the remarks while officially opening the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) Bishops’ congress on families’ peace and marriage blessing in Bulawayo on Saturday 28 October 2017.
“The government of Zimbabwe supports freedom of worship of churches and especially among churches of African origin which were oppressed during the colonial era. I’m pleased that the ACCZ has remained loyal to the President and ascribes to the nation of one centre of power that respects the highest authority of leadership. As Minister, I invite the ACCZ to participate in cultural consultations so that the government will understand their aspirations to help define our policy directions,” Hlongwane said.
He said that the church as a component of culture, should have clearly defined views on worship and marriages and should act as a tonic society and blamed those that ostracised for political reasons.
Speaking at the same occasion Shadreck Mashayamombe, the Zanu (PF) Harare province political commissar said his party supports unity in churches.
“We love the church as a party. Churches should not be judged for their political affiliations. As ZANU (PF), we will have a meeting with the President and First Lady at Rufaro Stadium on 5 November 2017. The meeting will be organised under the auspices of the ACCZ. Over 80% of the members of organising committee of the meeting with the First Family belongs to ACCZ, a clear sign of our strong partnership,” Mashayamombe said.
Johannes Ndanga, the ACCZ President took a dig at the traditional healers known as Tsikamutandas for causing havoc in the rural areas.
“Tsikamutandas are robbing villagers of their livestock like cattle, sheep and goats through their fake prophecies in connivance with the traditional leadership like chiefs, headmen and village heads. They do this using certificates offered by the ministry of health under the Traditional Medical Practitioners‘ Act chapter 27.14 which regulates the practice of traditional healing. This is a mere fundraising piece of legislation that should be abolished because there are also plans to clandestinely register churches to siphon funds from them,” Ndanga said.
Due process is not followed in awarding the certificates to traditional healers, a situation that has led to the mushrooming of fake prophets. Tsikamutandas allegedly sell the looted livestock for a song. One Kasipo from Nembudziya duped the whole village of livestock by falsely claiming to solve people’s problems spiritually. The ACCZ caused the arrest of one such fake prophets in Zvishavane.
As advocates of peace, the ACCZ also called for dialogue to resolve the Gukurahundi issue that is threatening unity among the county’s ethnic groups. Gukurahundi is a derogatory term that refers to an operation by the North Korean trained 5 Brigade that committed atrocities in the Midlands and Matebeleland provinces where an estimated 20 000 civilians were murdered under the guise of eliminating dissidents.