Zim churches set to defy govt over new ruling on healing
Dwindling economy the reason people seek alternatives
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.
Prophet Lethebo Rabalago of the Mountzion General Assembly church in Limpopo has been convicted for spraying an insecticide over congregants.