Price for church’s flock to keep faith
RIVERS of Living Waters Ministries followers have defended their church’s decision to charge R25 000 per table for the “price-giving” gala dinner in celebration of its leader’s birthday.
The dinner will be hosted in celebration of Archbishop Stephen Zondo’s 52nd birthday on January 26 and the church said it hoped to raise R100 million to build a community centre.
Zondo was criticised after a banner circulated on social media in which he stated that he would be hosting a “prize-giving” gala dinner in celebration of his birthday and that those wishing to share a table with him would have to fork out R10 000 per seat. A general table is R25 000 or R2 500 per seat.
Zondo, who was born on January 24, will celebrate his birthday at the Eye of Africa. He will also host the Archbishop Zondo’s Golf Day, where “non-golfers” will be charged R2 500 and people will pay R4 500 for a “fourball”, while a “hole sponsorship” is R5 000.
The most expensive is the “Archbishop’s Package” at R50 000. The banners stated that funds for Vision 2020 would be raised.
Thahla Manyawuza Faku commented on Facebook: “I am willing to pay R50 000. Count me in my people… for the Vision 2020.”
Ailwei Mudzuli said: “We are there to celebrate our daddy’s birthday and to raise funds for our Vision 2020 building.”
The church’s Bob Mthembu said as part of its forward-looking developments and its existence, the ministry resolved to build a community centre that would accommodate 12 000 people hence the importance of hosting the gala dinner as a way of generating funds.
Though the church did not respond directly to questions sent by The Star on Wednesday, Mthembu said in the statement: “Rivers of Living Waters Ministry will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. During this period of its existence, the ministry has grown to 20 000 members in more than 40 branches.”
It’s envisaged the centre will create employment opportunities in the short term and create more sustainable jobs in the hospitality sector and management of the centre in the long term.
“The estimated cost of the centre is about R100 million,” Mthembu said.
He said the centre would be open to the public and “reasonable tariffs will be determined by the church once it is ready to operate”.
However, Facebook users have accused Zondo of using people to enrich himself.
John Nape Magolo commented: “I love Bishop Zondo, never doubt that. But I think things like these exclude poor people…”
Mthuthuzeli Mbolekwa said: “It’s a lie. They are following their first liar (Malawian pastor Shepherd) Bushiri and now it’s them. Others are still going to do it, it’s the best way of robbing people in the name of God.”
However, Adam Visagie defended his leader. “The church has a Vision 2020 and therefore we are in need of these funds.”
Nathan Navira echoed his sentiments. “People don’t know that visions need to be funded… Running a church is not cheap,” he said.
CRITICISED: Archbishop Stephen Zondo of Rivers of Living Waters Ministries.