Zim churches set to defy govt over new rul­ing on heal­ing

Dwin­dling economy the rea­son peo­ple seek al­ter­na­tives

African Independent - - NEWS - EN­ERGY BARA

prob­lems con­tinue to worsen with each pass­ing day, a large num­ber of peo­ple have turned to churches for divine in­ter­ven­tion.

Sonykiss Chim­buya, an of­fi­cial with the Chris­tian Al­liance of Zim­babwe, said the gov­ern­ment or­der is not prac­ti­cal and will never be re­spected.

“Look­ing at the direc­tive, as churches we feel it is not prac­ti­cal, in ad­di­tion to be­ing un­con­sti­tu­tional, be­cause our con­sti­tu­tion is very clear in terms of free­dom of wor­ship,” said Chim­buya.

“We be­lieve that the gov­ern­ment is just plan­ning to ban some churches in the coun­try, be­cause the churches will defy this direc­tive,” he added.

Chim­buya also said that the coun­try’s health de­liv­ery sys­tems were “bleed­ing”, due to un­der­fund­ing, re­sult­ing in short­age of es­sen­tial drugs.

Hence sick peo­ple in the county have the right to look for al­ter­na­tive means to be healed, he ar­gued.

“Gen­er­ally, we do not know what the gov­ern­ment wants to achieve be­sides vic­tim­is­ing churches, be­cause this prac­tice has been there,” said Chim­buya.

The Apos­tolic Chris­tian Coun­cil of Zim­babwe, whose mem­ber­ship is in­volved in heal­ing peo­ple and which has the high­est num­ber of prophets in the coun­try, has vowed to defy the direc­tive, ar­gu­ing that the move is tan­ta­mount to ban­ning the faith-based heal­ing process prac­tised in churches.

Apos­tolic Chris­tian Coun­cil of Zim­babwe Bishop Jo­hannes Ndanga said that churches will defy the direc­tive.

“We can­not com­ply with an un­con­sti­tu­tional direc­tive and we are not go­ing to lose sleep over it,” said Ndanga.

A well-known prophet, whose church is known for heal­ing peo­ple through­out the coun­try, said his or­gan­i­sa­tion will not com­ply with the or­der.

Speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, the prophet as­sumed the gov­ern­ment wanted to ban some churches, hence the or­der to have them reg­is­tered.

“If the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to push this is­sue, we have no op­tion but to ap­proach the coun­try’s courts for a rem­edy,” said the prophet.

“Any direc­tive which con­tra­venes our con­sti­tu­tion is il­le­gal and there­fore we are urg­ing churches to just ig­nore the direc­tive,” added the prophet.

Health and Child Care Min­is­ter Dr David Parireny­atwa scoffed at the churches’ stance.

He said the move is meant to for­malise op­er­a­tions of churches as well as safe­guard the lives of pa­tients who visit churches or prophets for heal­ing pur­poses.

“We have to en­sure that there is or­der in the health sec­tor and that all churches be­come ac­count­able for their ac­tions,” said Parireny­atwa.

“As it stands, churches are op­er­at­ing hap­haz­ardly and we have wit­nessed a lot of peo­ple dy­ing after be­ing treated with toxic sub­stances,” he added.

“We are not tar­get­ing any­one but we want to pro­fes­sion­alise all in­sti­tu­tions that treat pa­tients in the coun­try.

“Any church that does not com­ply with the direc­tive will be banned from treat­ing pa­tients,” said Parireny­atwa.

“Since it is dif­fi­cult to mon­i­tor whether churches have stopped heal­ing peo­ple or not, we will ban the whole church from op­er­at­ing in the coun­try,” he added.

Or­di­nary Zim­bab­weans have also re­ceived the direc­tive with mixed feel­ings.

Onias Mu­sana in Masvingo said gov­ern­ment should fo­cus on im­prov­ing the health de­liv­ery sys­tem in­stead of vic­tim­is­ing churches and prophets.

“Once our hos­pi­tals are welle­quipped, no one will go to these churches,” said Mu­sana.

“After all, it’s a mat­ter of choice, be­cause if one feels one will be treated well within a church, one should be al­lowed to go there with­out any fear.”

Church mem­ber Al­bert Kwashiwa said it was proper for gov­ern­ment to mon­i­tor church or­gan­i­sa­tions that were in­volved in heal­ing peo­ple.

“We feel it’s a move in the right di­rec­tion but the whole thing should not be com­pul­sory,” said Kwashiwa.

“We need to bal­ance the right of an in­di­vid­ual to get treat­ment wher­ever he wants, and the hy­gienic stan­dards un­der which these heal­ing pro­cesses are done.”

Se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe, seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion out­side Zim­babwe, which sug­gests that they do not trust the lo­cal health care sys­tem.

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Prophet Lethebo Ra­bal­ago of the Mountzion Gen­eral Assem­bly church in Lim­popo has been con­victed for spray­ing an in­sec­ti­cide over con­gre­gants.

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