14/02/2018 11:39 SAST | Updated 14/02/2018 12:11 SAST

'Dear President Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe Needs Science, Not Religion'

The price of religion: controlled economic chaos, social inaction and suppressed political disapproval – leaders going to church don't reassure Zimbabweans.

Jason Alden/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe's president, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2018.

As I followed the sad and disturbing news reports on how Ezekiel Guti Jr died in a freak swimming-pool accident in Johannesburg, I once again quietly questioned whether God exists – and confronted the authenticity of claims that Ezekiel Guti, founding "archbishop" of the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA) church, has special healing powers.

How could Guti Jr spend his life unable to walk, while his father supposedly performed "miracles" for everyone else? Perhaps this explains why the child vented his frustration in an interview with the media, saying: "I used to pray to God that even if I cannot walk, at least I should be able to talk. I have seen my parents praying for people who could not talk, and they began to talk."

But Guti Jr never did walk. So I can appreciate how fake prophets, fake evangelists and fake healing sessions con faithful, desperate souls. And I understand why religion is losing credibility and popularity to fresh discoveries in medical science: God is always missing when a physiologically tangible miracle is required most.

God is always AWOL when sacrilegious relationships between men of the cloth and politicians promote deception and profit. God is very silent when self-serving civil leaders make a beeline for church, and such publicity stunts become front page news.

So I understand why there is an embarrassing proliferation of false prophets and capitalist churches: God has no voice and no real say in biological ills, corruption, the high cost of living, low foreign exchange reserves and increasing impoverishment. God cannot eliminate electoral fraud and stop the government from trampling on the rights of protesters in Bulawayo, Masvingo and Mutare.

'Gucci Grace' exposed how organised religion has become a nefarious conduit for cultivating a clean and God-fearing professional look while simultaneously amassing questionable power and wealth.

So while the cultivated picture of the first family singing in a Sunday mass at the Methodist Church in Harare's leafy suburb of Mabelreign might inspire words of praise from gullible followers, it also shines the spotlight on the role of religion in civil affairs.

But it is not just President Emmerson Mnangagwa and first lady Auxilia who have cashed in on this righteous Christian spirit to endear themselves to the Lord and millions of his followers in Zimbabwe – Vice-President Constantine Chiwenga on December 24 made an appearance at the Noah Taguta shrine in Marange communal lands in Manicaland.

And before Mnangagwa received the rich blessings of the Lord and made it to State House through a de facto coup, Grace Mugabe held a massive church rally at Rufaro Stadium on November 5, 2017, which allegedly confirmed that she was the chosen one.

Dressed in angelic white and surrounded by thousands of faithful followers, "Gucci Grace" exposed how organised religion has become a nefarious conduit for cultivating a clean and God-fearing professional look while simultaneously amassing questionable power and wealth.

Worryingly, all the main actors in this seemingly ungodly order of things – the former first lady, Mnangagwa, Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and "prophet" Shepherd Bushiri – seem to have more money and social scandals on hand than they can handle in a million lifetimes.

But how can the Lord allow such godless enrichment and widespread lawlessness to fester, and seemingly forgive these prominent figures for their public sins? I have not heard Mnangagwa say a prayer for the victims of the Gukurahundi massacres yet.

Philimon Bulawayo / Reuters
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks during the Extraordinary Congress of the ruling party ZANU PF in Harare, Zimbabwe December 15,2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

And when I think about the 1999 murder of Lutheran World Federation employee Strover Mutonhori, I am moved to question everything about God that I've ever believed in. Mutonhori died after an alleged affair with Mrs Tambudzai Mohadi came to light.

Unsurprisingly, the Mutonhori family have had little joy in their efforts to have the police investigate the chief suspect: Vice-President Mohadi. Where is the Lord when Mutonhori dies a cruel and unsolved death, and Mohadi becomes a vice-president 19 years later?

And is there a chance that Vice-President Mohadi, who has been photographed in church occasionally, ever prays for the wife and family of the late church worker? Is God watching over this distressed family and helping the mother with money for food, school fees, medicine and transportation?

I also wonder if "prophet" Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG ministries) – the man who supposedly predicted that Mr Mohadi would ascend to the second-highest office in the land – lends the needy all the help he can, especially after churchgoers paid R25,000 to sit next to "prophet" Bushiri at a dinner function held at the Pretoria Showgrounds on December 23, 2017.

If that ridiculous cost doesn't astound you, the R1.6-million Maserati Levante that the Malawi-born "prophet" bought his four-year-old daughter as a birthday present last year should. However, it is the economic and political hypocrisy that formal religion pushes, that has wounded the soul of modern society.

If Christianity had somehow evolved with no financial and humanitarian terms and conditions attached, all would probably be well. But the price of religion is controlled economic chaos, social inaction and suppressed political disapproval.

The spirit of the law must always prevail, when innocent lives have been lost at the hands of government forces and public funds have been abused or stolen.

People expect miracles to happen, but ignore how science can help achieve physical goals. Greater practicality and less reliance on prayer could help people enjoy richer, healthier, longer lives.

And although people can seek forgiveness from God and traditional gods for a range of social, economic and political transgressions, bygones cannot be bygones in all fairness: the spirit of the law must always prevail, when innocent lives have been lost at the hands of government forces and public funds have been abused or stolen.

Because nobody deserves to die or suffer ceaseless emotional and physical anguish for the selfish inclinations of mortal men and the electoral goals of unprincipled organisations.

So until God acts on the economic and social tribulations people face on a daily basis and takes a strong and vocal stand on important political matters, scientific and technological realities – not endless exorbitant faith in religion – should guide us in life.