Government vs. mapostori: the battle for followers
The news that a sect of the white garment churches brutalised riot police officers, ZBC journalists and a ZANU PF ordained bishop of the mapostori has captivated many. What has caught the people’s attention is not the mapostori’s blatant disrespect for media personnel or law enforcement agents. Rather it is the way the men and women in white garments stood up to authority. People are marvelling at their courage and speculators have been quick to conclude that the white garments have become the new regalia for the opposition movement.
Government to blame
For years, the ZANU PF government has sided with mapostori overlooking their wrongs and praising them as indigenous churches. Despite the sects’ record of abusing women and children and their anti-education doctrine, government has supported them all the way. The sects enjoyed unfettered attention and airplay on radio and always had reserved seats at all national events like Heroes’ Day. The rest of the churches were seen as pursuing a regime change agenda.
The battle for control
For years, government has been desperately trying to assert its authority over the church. Their desperation was highlighted when intelligence agents carried out a covert mission to expose and disgrace the then Archbishop of Bulawayo Archdiocese, Pius Ncube. The plot was to silence him as Ncube was a fierce critic of government’s abuse of power and was vocal about Gukurahundi.
Before the dust settled, government through disgraced ex-bishop Nolbert Kunonga grabbed the reigns of the Anglican Church using homosexuality as an excuse. For years, Anglicans were persecuted and banned from their churches and denied access to their Bernard Mizeki shrine until government realised the futility of its actions.
Orthodox Church or state controlled doctrine
Upon realising, they could not win the battle to control the western churches, government turned to the locals: mapostori. What government is seeking is to impose its bigoted political views as the central dogma of the sects. By sowing ideologies that border on racism and promote distrust of foreigners, they seek to establish a church that follows a toxic anti-Western doctrine. They are trying to create a church on the lines of the Russian Orthodox that derives power from government and legitimises government policies.
Radicalisation and religious extremism
The way the mapostori reacted to the police paints a gloomy picture of the future of religion in Zimbabwe. When one takes into cognisance, the fact that mapostori were complicit in the 2008 election violence that left more than 500 dead, it is not outlandish to believe that they are turning into religious extremists. Their views on women, children and western education and health are no different from the views of Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Somalia’s Al Shabaab. As they wake up to the reality that they have a significant population behind them, there is a possibility these sects will seek to expand their power and influence beyond their current boundaries. It is no surprise if decades from now Zimbabwe will be in Nigeria’s position facing religious extremists.
The misguided ZANU PF thugs
They are referred to as youths but I see nothing in them to celebrate as a youth. They are social misfits who offer themselves to be used as political pawns all for a sip of opaque beer ‘Chibuku or Ingwebu.’ In idiotic fashion, these vigilantes took to the streets in defence of the riot police. Its mind boggling that sane people will seek to defend the police from the people. What are they getting from the police? Whom are they representing: the people or the junta? Instead of demonstrating against corruption, high unemployment, collapsing education and health delivery systems, the brain dead saw it fit to waste their energy toy toying in solidarity with the police.
All have sinned and none is pure
The mapostori just like the spiritualists of this generation are taking advantage of people in desperation. They follow skewed doctrines that degrade women and children and glorify racism. Their views on western education and health are retrogressive. The mapostori are radicalising into religious extremists. However, this does not give the police or government the right to control the followers. The police are not a law unto themselves. They are mere enforcers and they must stick to that. As for the ZANU PF thugs, they stay out of the feud and stop escalating the situation. They are better if they go to Ngungunyana building and apply for farms so they can do something productive with their lives.
Let the Human Rights Commission do the job. Give the commission the adequate resources and necessary legislative backing to investigate and prosecute human rights violators in a non-partisan manner.