Prophet Walter Magaya's penchant for courting controversial people is unflinching.
Is it a case of opposite poles attracting? Or is it a case of two people trying to ride on the popularity of each other?
Imagine a church made up of raunchy dancer Beverley Sibanda, foul-mouthed rapper Alishias Musimbe simply known as Maskiri, the controversial Henrietta Rushwaya, the energetic Oscar Pambuka and singer Allan Chimbetu. These are some of the people Magaya has attracted to his Prophetic Deliverance Ministries (PHD) church after they declared to have been born again.
Magaya made headlines early this year when he tried in vain to convert dancer Beverley Sibanda. While he dismally failed to turn the dancer into a 'woman of cloth' his efforts were publicised.
Bev was experiencing a rough patch in her career. Her fortunes and popularity were waning. It later turned out, at her own admission on a radio show, that Bev went to Magaya's church for 'economic refuge' and strategic business move to woo people to attend her shows.
According to Bev's manager, Harpers Mapimhidze, the prophet's people called the dancer after spotting her in church and asked her to attend the church service the following week.
"While it was stage-managed to look as if Bev was part of the congregants that week, the truth of the matter is that she was called while relaxing at her home," said Mapimhidze.
While the role of Henrietta Rushwaya at the church has remained under wraps, she has been seen on several occasions very close to the prophet and can be seen barking orders in the church. Speculative reports suggests that she has found her way at the top echelon of the church's hierachy .
Rushwaya has a chequered history. She was dragged several times to court for her alleged role in the football match-fixing scandal that rocked the country a few years ago. While the courts found her not guilty, in October 2010, Henrietta was sacked after being found guilty by the Zifa's disciplinary body on charges of "conduct inconsistent with her duties, mismanagement and insubordination."
Rushwaya was found guilty of sending the national team to play unauthorised matches in Asia in 2009. Her sacking followed her suspension in July 2010 on suspicion of fixing matches in a Malaysian tournament. She was also found guilty of requesting a loan of $103,000 from Zimbabwe's sports commission, an amount that was unaccounted for.
Singer Alishias Musimbe, aka 'Maskiri' is also part of the entourage at PHD Ministries where he has a reserved seat in the VIP section. The musician carved his name as a deviant of Zimbabwean music. His music was laced with explicit content that branded him the country's own version of United States rapper Eminem.
As if that was not enough, the musician complemented what he sang about with his own lifestyle. The musician is now permanently limping after he sustained injuries when he jumped off the second floor of a flat during a love triangle tussle. Is it a damascene moment for Maskiri? Only time will tell.
Allan Chimbetu is now part of the praise and worship team at Magaya's church. The musician has also been embroiled in messy divorce cases. He was dragged to court for refusing to take a birth certificate for a child he sired with a Gweru woman. He has also been arrested for being involved in illicit dealings at the now demolished Ximex Mall.
While Oscar Pambuka has managed to keep his personal life under wraps, his public relations has been in the spotlight.
He was accused of lying when he prematurely announced that Nigerian pastor TB Joshua was on his way to Zimbabwe to attend Easter celebrations with Magaya. TB Joshua later disclaimed the pronouncements leading to Pambuka's censure as the spokesperson of the church.
Former Gunners boss Cuthbert Chitima is also in the top echelons of the church where he is an elder and believed to be handling the finances. Chitima too has been dogged with controversy that saw him facing fraud charges in 2011. He was accused of defrauding Stanbic bank of $200,000. He, however, was found not guilty. He also torched storm when he announced that Magaya was set to be the major shareholder at Gunners Football Club – a club he has interest in.
Efforts to get a comment from Magaya proved fruitless but one of his close confidante said the prophet was only doing what Jesus did when he was on earth.
"There is nothing wrong with the prophet dining and wining with people of different backgrounds. When Jesus was on earth people took offence when he dined with tax collectors. He was saving lost souls and this is what Magaya is doing," said the aide.
He added that the church's role is to serve as a sanctuary for those who have reformed and found Jesus so there was nothing sinister in having the so-called controversial individuals in church.