President Emmerson Mnangagwa has conferred national hero’s status on late iconic evangelist and Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA) church founder Archbishop Ezekiel Guti.
The once prominent evangelist, educationist and author died aged 100 on 5 July 2023.
Guti probably becomes the first ever Zimbabwean preacher to be granted the highest honour of the land purely on the basis of his works as a man of the cloth.
National hero’s status has traditionally been the preserve of politicians who were outstanding in contributing towards the country’s liberation war back in the 1960s and 70s.
While Mnangagwa also responded to a groundswell of public sentiment for him to honour Guti, the opportunity would however not have come at a more convenient time for the Zimbabwe incumbent who is keen to charm leaders of giant denominations in the country with hopes to draw support for his re-election bid in elections due 23 August this year.
Guti celebrated his centenary birthday on May 5 last month, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa in attendance.
His ZAOGA church, also known as the Forward in Faith Ministries International, remains one of the biggest in Zimbabwe with branches around the world.
In 2012, he established the Ezekiel Guti University in Bindura, reportedly at a cost of US$100 million. He and his wife, Eunor Guti, were the joint chancellors.
Twice married, Ezekiel Guti had seven children with Eunor – daughters Sarah Rusere, La-Verne Simukai, Fiona Arthurs, Dorcas Jaricha, Gracious Chikore and Ethanim Nyajeka.
Their only son, Ezekiel Junior, who had a speech impairment and physical disabilities, died in a drowning incident in 2017.
Guti is credited as the author of over a dozen Christian books and oversaw the construction of the Mbuya Dorcas Hospital in Harare, which opened its doors in 2012.