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INDEPTH: The little-known, abusive world of kudhonza matinji … – New Zimbabwe.com

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By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent


THEY do not just have to deal with unscientific, dangerous methods in a forced bid to elongate their labia minora, hundreds of young women are living in an unknown world of lashings for failure and rewards for success; all for men’s sexual pleasure.

Talk of the act is in hushed tones while naming it loudly or publicly in vernacular turns heads.

Matinji in Shona or malebe in isiNdebele, Zimbabwe’s two most common vernacular languages, have been relegated to vulgar or obscene words, conveniently hiding abuse of girls as young as 10-years who are having to deal with it silently, NewZimbabwe.com can reveal.

Labia minora are the soft inner tissues or lips of the vagina which extend outwards from the clitoris.

They are part of the external parts of the female sexual organ while labia elongation is the act of pulling them or lengthening them.

Genital mutilation or as amended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) genital modification, is common in Southern and East Africa.

Dark tales of how some churches have adopted lengthening of labia into their doctrines and constantly physically check minors’ private parts were shared with NewZimbabwe.com during the course of compiling this report.

Sithabile Nkomo, who revealed how she had to endure years of being forced by her church and family before standing her ground was told long labia would translate to a healthy marriage.

She was told her husband would not dare leave her as long as her labia was lengthened.

“Growing up I worshiped at the Zimbabwe African Catholic Church (ZACC), a mixture of white garments sects and the Anglican denominations,” said Nkomo.

“Every April we would go to Mutare where they measured our labia and checked if we were still virgins. They would beat us up as we bathed and expected us to start pulling them as early as grade seven.

“At home in Bulawayo my grandmother would bang the door and demand that they be pulled, she would flog our thighs. They would take us to certain parts of a river in our rural areas and measure them again.

“We would be forced to buy vaseline, mix it with groundnut cases, heat and use that to pull labia so that they grow quicker. Some of the girls I used to attend church with were really injured in the process.

“Those who would have reached the targeted length would graduate then be allowed to wear yellow and blue uniforms at church.”

Burnt banana leaves, crushed into tiny granules have been known to do the same job.

Indigenous religious groupings and cultural activities have been blamed for the act while tribes such as Shangani have been head strong against letting go of it as part of their daily lives.

A different source confirmed that one of her aunts had actually been sent back home because her labia was said to be too short after a riverside examination.

Added Nkomo; “I no longer go home as often as some would expect because of all this. I quit the church after realising we were being forced to do all this simply so we could pleasure men.

“I felt we were being abused because our pastors were all male and they were the ones who came up with all these funny church rules.

“They did not even allow us to marry outside the denomination, they maintained that we had to marry from within.

“These men are the ones who demanded that all women be virgins, all of us have long labia.”

Although health experts agree that more research is needed on side effects of labia elongation, the practise of adding untested chemicals or herbs on women’s private parts has been linked with an increased risk to bacterial and yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, increased transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Dr. Masimba Ndoro told NewZimbabwe.com use of untested chemicals or herbs in labia elongation could injure a woman’s inner organs or worse cause cancer.

“Just like any other traditional herbs used by certain people for different ailments, these ones used to elongate the labia cannot be excluded on the list of those that pose a hazard to human health,” said Ndoro.

“I would not know the specific potential side effects but the vulva naturally cleans its self with the addition of clean water.

“Addition of non tested herbs can lead to related skin conditions around the region, from skin rashes to infection and eventually cancer. I suppose there is room to potentially injure the inner organs like the vagina and cervix.”

A spiral of silence on the matter and modernity has resulted in methods being conveyed between peers in other circles.

Fadzai Chihera said problems might arise where a girl is forced to lengthen her labia but gets married to someone who does not want them.

“There are situations where you get married and realise that your husband does not want long labia. Maybe after you get married, without you can pull them if your husband wants them,” said Chihera.

“I was not told about this by my mother, I assume she was too shy to speak about it. I got the information I have from a cousin sister.

“How are you going to get rid of them in that instance. I believe as women we have a right to say yes or no on things that have to do with our body. This is just abuse to an extent.”

Women’s rights organisation Katswe Sistahood said genital manipulation was all about choice while a lot of care had to go in deciding for minors whether they should undergo the process.

“We have issues around choice and someone being forced. It is a matter of saying this should not be forced on women.

“What is important is that whatever is done should be in the interest of the child. Introducing something to their labia might not be in their best interest. We always warn women not to use any herbs as this could increase their risk of contracting diseases of their sexual organ,” said Katswe Sistahood programmes manager Debra Mwase.

With no law barring the act, more girls will continue to fall prey to churches that preach the gospel of genital manipulation, to cultures that invest in men’s sexual pleasure, men who supposedly believe in it and women who like pawns are central to the abuse of their own.

The story is published with support from the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) and Embassy of Canada in Zimbabwe under the Investigative Journalism Fund Programme. 

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CBC showcases Black voices, stories and experiences in honour of Black History Month – CBC.ca

Being Black in Canada Graphic

CBC is celebrating BLACK HISTORY MONTH throughout February with a wide range of programming across its platforms featuring Black creators, storytellers and changemakers.

Highlights of CBC’s Black History Month programming include the following:

CBC British Columbia

CBC British Columbia limited series Revelations.

REVELATIONS 
Every Saturday in February

Starting February 4, CBC Vancouver is proud to feature Revelations, a limited series for Black History Month. Every Saturday in February, tune in at 5 p.m. to CBC Radio One or CBC Listen in British Columbia and listen to prominent Black voices from Vancouver hosting music specials that cover a variety of genres, from gospel to hip-hop to Afrofuturism.

Revelations will be hosted by Dawn Pemberton (Feb 4), Marcus Mosely (Feb 11), Krystie Dos Santos (Feb 18) and Khair Wendell McClelland (Feb 25).

CBC News

CBC websiteBEING BLACK IN CANADA highlights the stories and experiences of Black Canadians year-round, providing a wide range of content celebrating the culture and achievements of Canada’s Black communities while also offering a window into their struggles.

Black man and woman in a purple and beige faces with the word Black in red and the word changemakers in orange - with the black CBC logo underneath. (Poster for the CBC Black Changemakers series)

BEING BLACK IN CANADA – BLACK CHANGEMAKERS 2023 
Launching February 1

Black Changemakers is a Quebec and Atlantic Canada editorial series that recognizes individuals who are creating positive change in their community through actions big and small. From creators and community organizers to students and entrepreneurs, the series highlights current-day changemakers, helping shape our future and inspiring others. Meet the Black Changemakers:  cbc.ca/beingblackincanada

BEING BLACK IN CANADA: FRIENDS & ALLIES 
Available throughout the month of February at cbc.ca/beingblackincanada
Being Black in Canada presents a special four-part series about Black Canadians and their trusted allies, offering inspirational intersectional stories which showcase allyship in action. 

An interview will air every Wednesday in February on CBC News Network’s CANADA TONIGHT and all four interviews as a half-hour special on CBC News Network and CBC Gem on Saturday, February 25 at 4:30 p.m. ET, 9:30 p.m. ET and 11:30 p.m. ET.

CBC TV and CBC Gem

Two black men, one with with a beard smiling, wearing a beige jacket and a knitted had talking on a bench. The second man also has a black beard and hair.
The Nature of Things features Secret Agents of the Underground Railroad as host Anthony Morgan, Saladin Allah and a team of archaeologists from the University of Buffalo unearth an emotional journey to freedom. The show airs February 3 on CBC TV and CBC Gem. (Courtesy of Attraction / CBC)

THE NATURE OF THINGS: SECRET AGENTS OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Friday, February 3 at 9 pm (9:30 NT) on CBC TV and
CBC Gem
SECRET AGENTS OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is a revealing, scientific exploration of how a Niagara Falls hotel, The Cataract House, became the focal point for a 19th century North American Black Resistance movement. Using strategic scientifically focused investigations, we follow host Anthony Morgan and a team of archaeologists from the University of Buffalo on an emotional journey as they recover parts of the hotel’s foundation. The archaeological dig unearths stories about how the hotel’s head waiter, John Morrison, and his seemingly innocuous wait staff covertly orchestrated Freedom Seekers’ escapes to freedom.

Black and white photo of a mural with the face of a Black man painted on a brick wall. He's wearing a hat. The words in Dear Jackie over the mural in black.
(Documentary Channel/CBC)

DEAR JACKIE(feature documentary directed by Henri Pardo)
Sunday, February 5 at 8 pm (8:30 NT) on CBC TV and
CBC Gem 
After a stint with the minor-league Montreal Royals, Jackie Robinson was the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball and a key contributor to the civil rights movement in the United States. When Robinson broke the colour barrier in professional baseball in 1946, the impossible seemed possible in a segregated North America. All Montrealers Black and white cheered him on and treated him like a hero. But did the white majority use the historic moment to perpetuate the myth of a post-racial society?

several colourful show posters of films in the CBC GEM Black History Month Collection - two of the prominent posters in front are of a Black woman walking through a field in a white shirt and pink skirt;  and a Black man dressed in black walking in front of red film reel.

CBC GEM BLACK HISTORY MONTH COLLECTIONS

Titles launching throughout the month of February 

CBC Gem offers four Black History Month collections – BLACK STORIES, CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY, BLACK ART & MUSIC, and MUST WATCH BLACK LEADS – featuring over 60 series, films and documentaries that explore Black history and culture, and celebrate Black success. 

Highlights include Season 2 of Emmy-winning fictional musical variety series SHERMAN’S SHOWCASE created by Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle and executive produced by John Legend; multiple Oscar-winning film MOONLIGHT directed by Barry Jenkins; and poignant drama THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO directed by Joe Talbot. Canadian premieres include two-part documentary RIGHT TO OFFEND: THE BLACK COMEDY REVOLUTION (directed by Mario Diaz and Jessica Sherif), about the progression of Black comedy and the comedians who have used pointed humour to expose, challenge and ridicule society’s injustices; and documentary BLIND AMBITION (directed by Rob Coe and Warwick Ross), the inspiring story of four Zimbabwean refugees who conquered the odds to become South Africa’s top sommeliers.

The CBC Gem collection, CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH (KIDS), showcases kids series and specials featuring Black talent in front of and behind the camera, and celebrates diversity and inclusiveness. 

CBC Podcasts

Poster for podcast series The Africas Vs. America -  black helicopter flies over a collage of farmland, industrial-looking factories with pink, and various hues of grey skies. With the words The Africas Vs. Americas

THE AFRICAS VS. AMERICA
Weekly starting Monday, February 6 – 7 episodes on CBC Listen and everywhere podcasts are available 

In the spring of 1985, the City of Philadelphia became the first in U.S. history to drop a bomb on a family of American citizens. The attack killed 11 people, including five children, and the ensuing fire set an entire neighbourhood to ruins. The targets that day? A family of Black radicals known collectively as MOVE, who found themselves ensnared in a city — and nation’s — domestic war on Black Liberation. Over seven episodes, host Matthew Amha investigates the events that culminated in the MOVE bombing, and the long afterlife of a forgotten American tragedy. Through intimate conversations, THE AFRICAS VS. AMERICA offers an unseen look into MOVE’s origins and dynamics while looking ahead to the group’s uncertain future.

CBC Arts 

On February 1, CBC Arts will unveil a new Black History Month-themed logo from artist Jimmy Baptiste as part of theirmonthly logo project, with an accompanying Q&A. Features in February will include an interview with artist Esmaa Mohamoud regarding her currentArt Gallery of Alberta show, and a new episode of Here and Queer with the filmmakers behind the Jackie Shane heritage minute, Pat Mills and Ayo Tsalithaba.

CBC Books

In February, CBC Books will unveil its annual Black Canadian Writers to Watch list, including emerging and exciting Black Canadian writers, authors and poets poised to make waves in the national and international literary scenes. Notable names on past lists include award winners such as Ian Williams, Canisia Lubrin, David Chariandy, francesca ekwuyasi and more. Throughout the month, CBC Books is featuring reading lists of recent and notable books by Black writers, for genres including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics, children’s books and more. CBC Books will also feature Q&A interviews with established and emerging Black Canadian authors all month long.

Two Black women with broad smiles, black hair, one wearing a bright yellow jacket and multicoloured shirt the other with a purple shirt trimmed with a pattern of red, orange, black, yellow. Standing in a studio with the word WOW light up in lights in the background.
Cassandra and Janaye of CBC Kids’ Studio K. (CBC Kids)

CBC Kids

CBC Kids celebrates Black History Month with grooves and moves: new videos for CBC TV and social media feature Studio K hosts Janaye and Tony as they honour phenomenal Black Canadians, and learn amazing Afro Dance moves. CBCKids.ca (ages 6-10) and CBC Kids News (ages 9+) offer age-appropriate context on the history and significance of Black History Month. 

CBC Sports

New original CBC Sports video features in February will focus on Black runner Phil Edwards, a five-time Olympic medallist for Canada, who went on to win the first-ever Northern Star Award for Canada’s top athlete in 1936; and the racial disparity between the Canadian men’s national soccer teams at the FIFA World Cup in 1986, the team’s first appearance, and their second in 2022. The video features will be available at cbcsports.ca and on the CBC Sports app. 

Banner that reads Being Black in Canada with five fists raised in different shades of brown with an orange frame
(CBC)

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Continue Reading

gospel

CBC showcases Black voices, stories and experiences in honour of Black History Month – CBC.ca

Being Black in Canada Graphic

CBC is celebrating BLACK HISTORY MONTH throughout February with a wide range of programming across its platforms featuring Black creators, storytellers and changemakers.

Highlights of CBC’s Black History Month programming include the following:

CBC British Columbia

CBC British Columbia limited series Revelations.

REVELATIONS 
Every Saturday in February

Starting February 4, CBC Vancouver is proud to feature Revelations, a limited series for Black History Month. Every Saturday in February, tune in at 5 p.m. to CBC Radio One or CBC Listen in British Columbia and listen to prominent Black voices from Vancouver hosting music specials that cover a variety of genres, from gospel to hip-hop to Afrofuturism.

Revelations will be hosted by Dawn Pemberton (Feb 4), Marcus Mosely (Feb 11), Krystie Dos Santos (Feb 18) and Khair Wendell McClelland (Feb 25).

CBC News

CBC websiteBEING BLACK IN CANADA highlights the stories and experiences of Black Canadians year-round, providing a wide range of content celebrating the culture and achievements of Canada’s Black communities while also offering a window into their struggles.

Black man and woman in a purple and beige faces with the word Black in red and the word changemakers in orange - with the black CBC logo underneath. (Poster for the CBC Black Changemakers series)

BEING BLACK IN CANADA – BLACK CHANGEMAKERS 2023 
Launching February 1

Black Changemakers is a Quebec and Atlantic Canada editorial series that recognizes individuals who are creating positive change in their community through actions big and small. From creators and community organizers to students and entrepreneurs, the series highlights current-day changemakers, helping shape our future and inspiring others. Meet the Black Changemakers:  cbc.ca/beingblackincanada

BEING BLACK IN CANADA: FRIENDS & ALLIES 
Available throughout the month of February at cbc.ca/beingblackincanada
Being Black in Canada presents a special four-part series about Black Canadians and their trusted allies, offering inspirational intersectional stories which showcase allyship in action. 

An interview will air every Wednesday in February on CBC News Network’s CANADA TONIGHT and all four interviews as a half-hour special on CBC News Network and CBC Gem on Saturday, February 25 at 4:30 p.m. ET, 9:30 p.m. ET and 11:30 p.m. ET.

CBC TV and CBC Gem

Two black men, one with with a beard smiling, wearing a beige jacket and a knitted had talking on a bench. The second man also has a black beard and hair.
The Nature of Things features Secret Agents of the Underground Railroad as host Anthony Morgan, Saladin Allah and a team of archaeologists from the University of Buffalo unearth an emotional journey to freedom. The show airs February 3 on CBC TV and CBC Gem. (Courtesy of Attraction / CBC)

THE NATURE OF THINGS: SECRET AGENTS OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Friday, February 3 at 9 pm (9:30 NT) on CBC TV and
CBC Gem
SECRET AGENTS OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is a revealing, scientific exploration of how a Niagara Falls hotel, The Cataract House, became the focal point for a 19th century North American Black Resistance movement. Using strategic scientifically focused investigations, we follow host Anthony Morgan and a team of archaeologists from the University of Buffalo on an emotional journey as they recover parts of the hotel’s foundation. The archaeological dig unearths stories about how the hotel’s head waiter, John Morrison, and his seemingly innocuous wait staff covertly orchestrated Freedom Seekers’ escapes to freedom.

Black and white photo of a mural with the face of a Black man painted on a brick wall. He's wearing a hat. The words in Dear Jackie over the mural in black.
(Documentary Channel/CBC)

DEAR JACKIE(feature documentary directed by Henri Pardo)
Sunday, February 5 at 8 pm (8:30 NT) on CBC TV and
CBC Gem 
After a stint with the minor-league Montreal Royals, Jackie Robinson was the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball and a key contributor to the civil rights movement in the United States. When Robinson broke the colour barrier in professional baseball in 1946, the impossible seemed possible in a segregated North America. All Montrealers Black and white cheered him on and treated him like a hero. But did the white majority use the historic moment to perpetuate the myth of a post-racial society?

several colourful show posters of films in the CBC GEM Black History Month Collection - two of the prominent posters in front are of a Black woman walking through a field in a white shirt and pink skirt;  and a Black man dressed in black walking in front of red film reel.

CBC GEM BLACK HISTORY MONTH COLLECTIONS

Titles launching throughout the month of February 

CBC Gem offers four Black History Month collections – BLACK STORIES, CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY, BLACK ART & MUSIC, and MUST WATCH BLACK LEADS – featuring over 60 series, films and documentaries that explore Black history and culture, and celebrate Black success. 

Highlights include Season 2 of Emmy-winning fictional musical variety series SHERMAN’S SHOWCASE created by Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle and executive produced by John Legend; multiple Oscar-winning film MOONLIGHT directed by Barry Jenkins; and poignant drama THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO directed by Joe Talbot. Canadian premieres include two-part documentary RIGHT TO OFFEND: THE BLACK COMEDY REVOLUTION (directed by Mario Diaz and Jessica Sherif), about the progression of Black comedy and the comedians who have used pointed humour to expose, challenge and ridicule society’s injustices; and documentary BLIND AMBITION (directed by Rob Coe and Warwick Ross), the inspiring story of four Zimbabwean refugees who conquered the odds to become South Africa’s top sommeliers.

The CBC Gem collection, CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH (KIDS), showcases kids series and specials featuring Black talent in front of and behind the camera, and celebrates diversity and inclusiveness. 

CBC Podcasts

Poster for podcast series The Africas Vs. America -  black helicopter flies over a collage of farmland, industrial-looking factories with pink, and various hues of grey skies. With the words The Africas Vs. Americas

THE AFRICAS VS. AMERICA
Weekly starting Monday, February 6 – 7 episodes on CBC Listen and everywhere podcasts are available 

In the spring of 1985, the City of Philadelphia became the first in U.S. history to drop a bomb on a family of American citizens. The attack killed 11 people, including five children, and the ensuing fire set an entire neighbourhood to ruins. The targets that day? A family of Black radicals known collectively as MOVE, who found themselves ensnared in a city — and nation’s — domestic war on Black Liberation. Over seven episodes, host Matthew Amha investigates the events that culminated in the MOVE bombing, and the long afterlife of a forgotten American tragedy. Through intimate conversations, THE AFRICAS VS. AMERICA offers an unseen look into MOVE’s origins and dynamics while looking ahead to the group’s uncertain future.

CBC Arts 

On February 1, CBC Arts will unveil a new Black History Month-themed logo from artist Jimmy Baptiste as part of theirmonthly logo project, with an accompanying Q&A. Features in February will include an interview with artist Esmaa Mohamoud regarding her currentArt Gallery of Alberta show, and a new episode of Here and Queer with the filmmakers behind the Jackie Shane heritage minute, Pat Mills and Ayo Tsalithaba.

CBC Books

In February, CBC Books will unveil its annual Black Canadian Writers to Watch list, including emerging and exciting Black Canadian writers, authors and poets poised to make waves in the national and international literary scenes. Notable names on past lists include award winners such as Ian Williams, Canisia Lubrin, David Chariandy, francesca ekwuyasi and more. Throughout the month, CBC Books is featuring reading lists of recent and notable books by Black writers, for genres including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics, children’s books and more. CBC Books will also feature Q&A interviews with established and emerging Black Canadian authors all month long.

Two Black women with broad smiles, black hair, one wearing a bright yellow jacket and multicoloured shirt the other with a purple shirt trimmed with a pattern of red, orange, black, yellow. Standing in a studio with the word WOW light up in lights in the background.
Cassandra and Janaye of CBC Kids’ Studio K. (CBC Kids)

CBC Kids

CBC Kids celebrates Black History Month with grooves and moves: new videos for CBC TV and social media feature Studio K hosts Janaye and Tony as they honour phenomenal Black Canadians, and learn amazing Afro Dance moves. CBCKids.ca (ages 6-10) and CBC Kids News (ages 9+) offer age-appropriate context on the history and significance of Black History Month. 

CBC Sports

New original CBC Sports video features in February will focus on Black runner Phil Edwards, a five-time Olympic medallist for Canada, who went on to win the first-ever Northern Star Award for Canada’s top athlete in 1936; and the racial disparity between the Canadian men’s national soccer teams at the FIFA World Cup in 1986, the team’s first appearance, and their second in 2022. The video features will be available at cbcsports.ca and on the CBC Sports app. 

Banner that reads Being Black in Canada with five fists raised in different shades of brown with an orange frame
(CBC)

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Continue Reading

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Economics of mega churches and prophetic schemes – Chronicle

The Chronicle

Marshall Rufura Ndlela, Opinion

AFRICAN spirituality basically concedes that norms, religion, practices and standards inform and define every façade of humanity, human life and culture. It is undoubtedly evident that Africans have a high propensity to believe in any well-orchestrated religion that spiritually uplifts them.

The ancient social ecosystem of Zimbabwean humanity evolved around spirituality, Ubuntu, and cultural orders from the ancient rulers, the likes of Mambo, Monomotapa, Mzilikazi and other tribal leaders. The religious practices were of paramount importance as they were used in various facets of their lives, ranging from rain making, healing, praying and accurate prophecies. The practices were free of charge and provided a spiritual need that could still satisfy the spiritual appetite of the society at large.

A South African preacher made congegants eat grass to be closer to God. (File photo)

The colonial forces that descended on Africa in the 1800s muddled the whole African value chain of humanity and economic system. Africa witnessed a mass inflow of Christian evangelical migrants or colonisers who systematically enforced their religion upon Africans. As the economic system was disoriented, thousands of missionaries in the form of

Roman Catholics, Dutch Reformed, Anglican, Methodist and Lutheran, to mention a few, introduced various social support structures to fill the gouged African spirituality and “civilisation”.

Their perfect competitive missionary worship practices required funding and financing.  Indeed, whoever feeds you controls you; that was the new revolutionary order of African societies. In order to advance their cause, schools, hospitals, NGOs, universities and clinics were built at a better service or close to free fees. The result was a concoction of Christian faceted or minded people who always used their doctrine to make any decision ranging from business, economic, political and family wise. To some extent, the system created religious cabals that could and can control an economic sector, government sector or a societal format.

Zimbabwe celebrated its independence from white minority rule in 1980. The economic system to be adopted was of a mixed economy, leaning more towards socialism. The then Government under the late Mr Robert Mugabe, a renowned Catholic, promoted spiritual democracy and independence. This saw either the birth or growth of traditional churches that was an infusion of the traditional and the imported religious practices.

Zimbabwe witnessed the growth of Apostolic sects, Zionist  sects and Pentecostal movements and  several other Christian pan-traditional churches. These churches came with a significant proportion of controversy ranging from awkward deliverance methods, praying styles, dressing, voodoo, fetish practices, child abuse, human rights abuse etc. Most of them emphasised on the teaching of mosaic laws as a fundamental principle that could bring solutions to all sorts of problems to their members or new members. In business, we say it was an uninsured spiritual insurance policy. The solution to the personal problems of members was compensated by a conditional faith-based prayer.

As the political volcano of 1999 erupted, leading to other political formations applying for sanctions to be imposed against their citizens, Zimbabwe was hit hard in all aspects of life. The signs of macroeconomic illnesses were visibly and globally noticeable. Some pastors preached the gospel of punishment, curses and patience. International spiritual missionaries saw the opportunity to invade the ‘‘poor’’ country. Zimbabwe witnessed the entrance of satellite broadcasting churches, and many others. As if that was not enough, young pastors or followers of these churches started to visit Nigeria, Benin, and Ghana for spiritual anointing or baptism.

With the third industrial revolution, satellite broadcasting, internet and social media was the best platform to spread the gospel of miracles, prophecies, deliverance, healing and “True caller tricks”. Zimbabwe became one of the major producers and exporters of such prophets. The movement of these pastors grew rapidly, became very influential and advanced what I would describe as scams. What is painful is that the poverty of an ordinary Zimbabwean is fundamentally not caused by spirituality but by the economic sanctions, attitude of the Zimbabweans and external forces.
Spiritual Democracy is regarded as putting the ideas of democracy back to where it belongs, as a shining example of the human spirit at work in the evolution of human culture and social architecture. I do applaud African countries for allowing spiritual democracy even with its shortcomings. Mega churches and these prophetic schemes or scams are being offered a heaven on earth democracy at the expense of their followers.

The aggregated revenue collected by all these churches, can surpass the gross receipts of Zimra. They are running a state within a state and not accounting or presenting a church budget to their members, showing them the revenues collected, disbursed and the resulting balance. Most churches are registered as non-profit organisations (NPOs), meaning that they exist to make neither a profit nor loss and they should transparently disclose their incomes to their members, auditor general and surrender the surplus either to the state or to their members.

The Government, as the chief regulator of all economic, social and environmental affairs of the nation, needs an efficient toolkit to be developed, guided by the ethical considerations, fairness, respect of Ubuntu, respect of human rights and respect of financial laws of a country. If left uncorrected, these churches or pastors will pose a serious economic, political and national threat to the security and welfare of the citizens.

We cannot forget that the apartheid and colonial forces used the same pastors and church leaders as an instrument to advance their evil deeds.  Each church should have a registered accountant, supply chain manager, church manager and so forth thereby reducing unemployment.

The Government should develop or enforce donations tax, NPOs tax and employee tax to all the church employees and also collect all surpluses for development programs around those churches. The money could be used for construction of streetlights, repairing roads, security costs and schools in those areas where those churches exist.

It is only in America where church founders and pastors of mega churches are sued for tax fraud, laundering and tax evasion. In Zimbabwe, pastors of these mega churches are left hunting all corners of the country with baskets and buckets of unaccounted money collections from the poor masses who are investing all their energies in expecting a miracle to happen.

* Marshall Rufura Ndlela is a scholar, researcher and an economic and financial expert based in South Africa. He holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Chichester, England. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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