Bra Nick Mangwana is, by basic standards, a sober Rasta, as they say in ghetto lingo. As sober, of course, as you can ever go as a tenant of the Zanu PF madhouse.
He is, on quite a number of times, capable of measuring things on the ground, devoid of the emotion and delusion that you normally find at psychiatric units. In that regard, he is somewhat different from his rabid inmates. I mean, the likes of the now defunct Matigary militia and what what. The guys who have given Twitter, themselves and their handlers such a bad name by using each and every day to post rambling lunacy and hate mumblings.
Like, late last week, he went on Twitter to rap the so-called men of God—there is hardly a woman of God in it, of course—for contributing to the heavy Covid-19 caseload. He spoke in a near-riddle, granted, because he was never too direct on what he was saying when he blamed the false prophets and pastors for playing a part in the surging deaths and cases related to the corona virus.
But he made the point. The men of cloth must take part of the blame for misleading their faithfuls on the fight against Covid-19. They are abusing their positions to sell their followers a rotten line on this. This is one genre of corruption that we always jaw-jaw about without exactly calling it corruption.
When global pharmaceutical companies started making headway in the manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines, the prophets and pastors went on steroids, peddling all kinds of rumours in the name of prophecy. As you will remember, they started claiming that God had revealed to them that the impending vaccines were the work of the devil. They lied that they would be used to infuse the 666 symbol into your system. They also said the vaccines were meant to sterilise men from the Global South so as to reduce populations. They said Bill Gates was the devil’s advocate in this, together with all the noisy mumbo jumbo.
That’s where the cheating started. They gave their followers the false impression that what they were saying was prophesy. The truth of the matter, though, was that they were just repeating the stuff they were reading on Whatsapp, Facebook and so on. This, in fact, is a new method that these fake prophets have devised to mislead people. They read the news and all sorts of nonsense, sit down with their cohorts and carefully plan how to turn that into “prophecy”. They then abuse the name of the Lord by saying that they got what they say in spiritual dreams and all such.
The trick is simple. They pick on things that they know will resonate with their gullible followers. They make inferences based on what is already happening or is rumoured to be happening. They then say x or y will happen. Their followers, predictably, cheer them wildly. Faith is blind, so you naturally don’t get surprised by this.
And this is exactly what happened in the case of the vaccines. The prophets and pastors had to find relevance. They are forever troubled by waning numbers in their churches. Over the years, they have been promising their congregants lots of high-sounding things. Every year, at what they call crossovers, they declare that their loyalists have been delivered from poverty and ushered into prosperity. This record plays over and over again. The problem is, the deliverance doesn’t come for the majority of the people. So, they gradually become disillusioned and look for deliverance elsewhere.
That is why you will notice that there was a war of numbers when Walter Magaya set up his PHD ministries. There was a big trek from Emmanuel Makandiwa’s UFIC as people got excited by the new entrant and his new tricks of cheating people. For some time, there were claims and counter claims between the two churches of who was more popular between Makandiwa and Magaya. With that came all sorts of weird claims in the name of miracles. Do you remember the stuff about miracle money suddenly fattening your bank account and miracle gold finding its way into your pocket during prayer seminars? Fat women instantly getting slim and people living with HIV and AIDS being healed? Do you remember Magaya’s miracle corn and the satchel of followers’ tribulations that he took to Israel? Miracle pregnancies and deliveries?
All that was designed to fool the gullible audiences and keep them in the respective churches. Zimbabwe is a troubled country, economically, and the prophets and pastors know that. They use the gospel of prosperity to make money by pretending that people’s problems are spiritual issues. They are now very rich because of the tithes and what not that the poor majority has been paying. Give me one current prophet who wasn’t as poor as an ancient-church mouse when he started. Then tell me where they got the money to start their now sprawling businesses.
This is very relevant to what you see happening where the Covid-19 vaccines are concerned. What with all these lockdowns and strict restrictions on money-mongering church gatherings, the prophets and pastors are desperate for relevance. They must find the drama, the sound bites that will keep the people following them and paying for their loyalty. That’s why they claim that the vaccines are the devil’s work, after reading about that on social media.
A very big number of people who are reluctant to get vaccinated are people who still have unwavering faith in these prophets and pastors of doom. Naturally, the people are getting infected and dying. This is the point that Bra Nick is making.
Of course, this is not to say that all the people who are getting infected and dying are from these dubious churches. Nor does it mean that those that have been vaccinated are not getting infected and dying. The thing is, the prophets and pastors are contributing to the heavy Covid-19 caseload by misleading their followers through conspiracy theories that they are trading as prophecy.
Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust (IDT) and can be contacted on email@example.com