Respect church's freedom of choice

HARARE - As political parties get their campaign a gear up, there has been an interesting development where Zanu PF is ambushing  prayer meetings urging church members to vote for President Robert Mugabe.

In recent weeks we have seen Zanu PF bigwigs donning the apostolic faith regalia, coercing members of the church to vote for Zanu PF and Mugabe.

Zanu PF political commissar, Webster Shamu recently pleaded with members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect not to let down Mugabe.

“This time around if you let down President Mugabe you have let down the whole country and Africa because President Mugabe is a respected leader in the whole of Africa,”  Shamu told apostolic members in Marange last week.

Shamu was accompanied by a high-powered delegation that included Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo, Manicaland Governor and resident minister Chris Mushohwe and Zanu PF Manicaland secretary for administration, Kenneth Saruchera among other party officials.

Zanu PF politburo member Savior Kasukuwere has also pledged 600 bags of cement towards the construction of Guta Ra Mwari (Zvimiso) Church building in Mpopoma, Bulawayo.

Zanu PF officials have not minced their words during these campaigns and openly gave the church, orders to vote for Mugabe with promises of land and other benefits.

But we believe it is mischievous for leaders of these churches to declare in interviews aired on national television that the Holy Spirit has told them to vote for Mugabe!  

Johannes Ndanga of the Association of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (AACZ) was quoted in the State-controlled media as saying: “It was prophesied way back in 1934 by the founder of Johane Masowe church that Zimbabwe was going to have a leader like President Mugabe who will only be removed by God.”

Such pronouncements that the Holy Spirit has called on them to vote for Mugabe and that the he can only be removed by God from power is as misplaced as it is spiritually poisonous. While church leaders have a right to support political leaders of their choice, it is not proper for them to order all members to vote for a particular political party.

Politicians and in particular Zanu PF has this misplaced misconception that members of the apostolic churches are a captive audience who follow orders from their spiritual leaders without questions.

Church members; be they from the Anglican, Roman Catholic or Methodist churches have a right, just like those in the apostolic faith churches, to vote for whoever they want.

They have the freedom to join any political party of their choice.

In recent years, we have also seen Zanu PF busing apostolic church members to the National Heroes Acre whenever there is a State funeral and again this is wrong because the church members are not being given the chance to make their choice. - Staff Writer

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