Emmanuel Makandiwa the United Family International Church (UFIC) leader on Sunday fumed at President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet and advisers, accusing them of working against the 92 year-old ruler.
The charismatic prophet was leading his church in prayer in Harare against bloodshed in Zimbabwe, following the recent violent protests that rocked the country as citizens demonstrated against a ban on imported goods, corruption and bad governance.
“I said it here that there are people who are after the president. There are people working against him. Our president is in trouble! He is paying people that are working against him,” said the prophet.
Without explaining, he added that 2018, when the next general elections will be held, was “too far”.
Government recently promulgated Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 (SI64/16) that banned a list of products purportedly to protect local industry, torching riots in the border town of Beitbridge that spread to Harare and other parts of the country.
Police reacted violently to the protests, beating up protesters, setting dogs on women and children and arresting hundreds who have since appeared in court.
This incensed Makandiwa, who heads one of the biggest Pentecostal churches in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabweans are not asking for teargas. They are asking for bread. Even Jesus said there is no father who can give his child a stone when he is asking for bread,” said Makandiwa during the Sunday sermon.
He claimed he had prophesied in 2014 that Zimbabweans would “erupt like a volcano”, saying the nation could not afford to ignore popular anger, as the economy continues to downslide.
“The children (Zimbabweans) are bitter and there certain things we cannot afford to ignore. When I heard of the import ban, I said it must be a joke. I could not imagine learned people (cabinet) sitting down and resolving to ban imports,” said Makandiwa.
Many UFIC congregants are informal traders who generate their income through cross-border business and their revenue, part of which funds the church through tithes and various offerings, is likely to suffer.
Cooking oil, which is among the banned imports, is an essential commodity that the churches uses to produce anointing oil, while the UFIC church in the dormitory city of Chitungwiza is being built using mainly imported bricks, which are also on the banned list.
“When you (cabinet) meet and conclude your meetings, you know that this (ban) is a joke. Remove this joke,” urged Makandiwa.
He added that he also prophesied that security agents would hound people out of their homes, just as they did when citizens recently protested against police corruption in Epworth, Mabvuku and Tafara, conducting midnight raids and beating people up.
“I said it here that they would come after you in your homes (sic) and chase you into the streets. At this point we pray that at least one person comes out and talks to the people.
“There is no politician who is capable of praying for this nation. Their kids don’t learn in Zimbabwe (sic). Events in Zimbabwe don’t affect them because they are sorted (sic). At the end of the day, it’s the ordinary man that suffers,” said Makandiwa.
He added: “Even if you call for a national prayer and you are down on your knees praying, they will beat you up so as to incite violence.”
While Makandiwa puts the blame for recent social unrest on Mugabe’s advisers, government authorities have accused a “third force” that includes western embassies of inciting protesters to get onto the streets.