Celebrities, including top politicians, business people, popular musicians, television presenters, pole dancers and football administrators are all joining gospel prosperity churches in droves as they search of happiness and financial wealth.
The emergence of popular prophets Walter Magaya, Emmanuel Makandiwa and Eubert Angel leaders of Propheti Healing and Deliverance (PHD), United Family International Church (UIFC )and Spirit Embassy respectively has suddenly awakened popular personalities who are exploiting their fame to be nearer the "men of God".
From business people that include Phillip Chiyangwa, Zanu PF minister Ignatius Chombo, ZBC television presenter and news caster Oscar Pambuka, former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya to musicians like Alick Macheso, Leonard Zhakata, Nicholas Zacharia, Mahendere Brothers, Mudiwa Mutandwa all have been seen attending one of the new churches.
Chiyangwa has been to Makandiwa’s sermons and sits in the VIP section, while Chombo has been to Magaya’s church where he was pictured being introduced to Magaya’s anointing oil. Chombo has reportedly donated a house to PHD ministries and some land for him to construct a massive church.
During the wedding of Alick Macheso’s daughter Sharon early this month, the sungura star’s wife Nyadzisai gushed praises to Magaya’s PHD saying her life and that of her family have never been the same since joining Magaya’s church.
Other musicians like Amos Mahendere, Allan Chimbetu, Mudiwa Mutandwa, and Nicholas Zacharia among others also sing for congregants in the three most popular churches, PHD, UIFC and Spirit Embassy.
The storming by these popular personalities in the new prophetic churches has been a blessing to some of the institutions while some have not been so lucky, engaging those with ultra-motives bent on tarnishing the church’s image.
Already some of the personalities like Rushwaya have been allegedly quizzed by police over extortion charges, after being implicated in the on-going PHD ministries case involving a man who claims the church’s leader Magaya had an affair with his wife.
Rushwaya, who last month assumed a top post in PHD ministry’s finance department, was picked up by the police this week following a report made by Magaya at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Law and Order Section, Harare Central Police Station.
She was questioned on allegations of masterminding an attempt to extort Magaya of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Others like pole dancer Bev Sibanda made headlines when they joined PHD only to abandon the mission after complaining that money she was receiving from the church as a hand-out was not enough for her upkeep.
The church, which had opened her a boutique shop, lost all its investments. The church was already in the process of negotiating an out of court deal to all the promoters Bev had contracts with, so that the church would compensate them.
When the dancer severed her ties with Magaya in April, she staged a public pole dancing show at Zindoga Shopping Centre’s Manucho Club just a stone’s throw away from PHD Church in Harare’s Waterfalls suburb.
The dancer did not have kind words for Magaya and his ministry something that bordered on being ungrateful.
Bev said: "I am tired of the Magaya publicity thing while I am creating more enemies from the church on a daily basis. Magaya is not even giving me enough food and I spend hours in queues waiting for my allowances at his place and the money that he is giving me for ordering stock from Tanzania is not enough. At times I fail to pay duty on my way back.
"I am failing to record even $30 sales per day whilst my shop rentals are plus $1 000 per month. It’s better I move the shop to Gulf Complex and start my dancing career and if they chase me away from their PHD, then I will start my own church at home. Ko chii chinonetsa kutanga kereke? Tatiriko uku. We now know it in and out."
Journalist and veteran news presenter Pambuka who is working as a spokesperson for PHD once lost the plot as he was quoted as saying that TB Joshua would attend a PHD Easter service on the invitation of PHD leader Prophet Magaya.
However, TB Joshua distanced himself from Pambuka’s statement and issued a damning statement on his official Facebook page.
"Our attention has been drawn to a newspaper article which claims that Mr Walter Magaya is bringing TB Joshua to Zimbabwe. This is not to be believed. This is a dream. We pray that your dream comes to pass one day. Sometimes, one’s heart’s desire comes true if one is steadfast in God’s will. It is my desire to come to the country because I love the nation and people of Zimbabwe, but there is no plan for now, so this story is not to be believed."
This damning rebuttal angered the leadership of PHD Ministries and plans to officially remove Pambuka from the office of the church spokesman were mooted.
Contacted for comment at that time, Pambuka claimed that he was not only with PHD for work but he was also a church member.
"I am a church member and I have been a member for a very long time before I even became the spokesperson for the church," he said.
Musicians have also joined the prophetic churches with some composing music for special events. Some of the musicians change their lyrics to suit gospel music that is played in the church.
Renowned dendera artiste, Suluman Chimbetu, composed a jingle for Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa’s Judgement Night 2 held at the National Sports Stadium on April 19.
The jingle, largely a remix of his late father, Simon Chimbetu’s, hit Kumagobo, speaks of a graduate who has finished school and has learnt his trade but is facing difficulties in securing employment in the urban areas of this country and is now contemplating going for "Judgement Night 2" to seek some divine solution to his problem.
Sulu is not the only musician that has sung for Makandiwa’s church.
Leonard Karikoga Zhakata Popularly known for his hits Mugove and Upenyu Mutoro, is one of the country’s most prolific musicians whose lyrical depth has managed to see him remain afloat in an industry punctuated by fierce competition.
Zhakata was quoted in the media as saying he performs for Christ. "I went to AFM for a while and then the late Biggie Tembo took me to Upper Room Ministries and I was there until I left for United Family International Church, UFIC. I live my life for God and everything I do has to be to His glory."