When a whole Chief Justice falls for a ruse

As Zimbabweans, how do we feel about our most senior judge flying to South Korea, wasting days of office time at a conference with no tangible or meaningful outcome, legitimising a religious cult and then allowing state media to praise his bold contributions to the cause of peace?

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku recently came back from Seoul, South Korea, where he represented Zimbabwe at the Proclamation of the Declaration of Peace and the Cessation of War, organised by a group calling itself Heavenly Culture, World Peace and Restoration of Light (HWPL), headed by one Man Hee Lee.

By Helen Morris

A Herald article from March 15 2016 claims “the quest for global peace and harmony escalated with the historic launch of the proclamation” and praises Chidyausiku’s participation in the event.

The declaration described in the article is strangely vague. The speech by Man Hee Lee, which the Herald reports as groundbreaking peace-building policy, is full of statements that even a 12-year-old might make after first seeing a bomb blast reported on the evening news — “wars are untenable”, “the work of peace is a task someone must take on”, “the declaration seeks to dispose the world of all armed conflicts”. Although the sentiment is noble, the declaration ignores decades of peace-building work by policy-makers around the world, and ludicrously over-simplifies local and global politics.

The website for HWPL is as vague as the speech quoted in the Herald. HWPL’s “vision for sustainable peace” states that if all the heads of state “sign an international agreement” and if all the youth “agree not to fight one another … world peace will be restored”. Again, these platitudes are so obvious that they are barely worth stating.

Moreover, humanity has not been at peace since Cain killed Abel, so there is nothing to restore. The website boasts about peace marches and conferences at which peace is declared, but provides very little concrete evidence of substantial work towards developing peace in any region of the world. Man Hee Lee has “traversed the globe 24 times, talking about peace”, but there is no evidence of concrete work towards peace. There are plenty of photographs of him talking or posing, but he has never mediated a conflict or brokered a ceasefire anywhere.

More research about Man Hee Lee reveals that the elderly white-suited man is best known in South Korea, not as a herald of peace, but as the leader of a church called Shincheonji. As the leader of Shincheonji, Man Hee Lee teaches that after Jesus ascended to Heaven, God promised to anoint another pastor, who would prepare Christians for the Second Coming. Man Hee Lee claims to be that pastor and attracts people to his sect by convincing them that “when the Second Coming arrives it will not be enough to know only God and Jesus, believers must also know the pastor promised in the New Testament” (that is Man Hee Lee). His teaching demonises “the enemy”, which is anyone who refuses to recognise that Man Hee Lee is the only true route to salvation, forcing many members to cut off contact with any family and friends who are not followers of Man Hee Lee.

As God’s anointed pastor, Man Hee Lee expects absolute obedience from his followers. He instructs them to limit their sleep, in order to devote more time to prayer and to studying his doctrine. The widespread sleep deprivation makes the congregation easier to frighten and emotionally manipulate. They study his teachings and his version of the Bible for four or five days a week in groups, managed by minders, who report disobedience to church elders.
Every person in Shincheonji is expected to attend three or four-hour services on Wednesdays and Sundays. Many Shincheonji branches use a digital fingerprint recognition register to ensure that every person is present. Followers are strongly urged to give up their jobs or studies in order to devote their lives entirely to the church. They are also encouraged to give up all of their savings to their leaders, leaving them completely reliant on the church community.

One of the key requirements for becoming a core member and guaranteed salvation in the Second Coming, is recruiting new members for Shincheonji. The sect became very unpopular in South Korea because members would infiltrate other churches and attract the members away from their congregations.

Many churches in South Korea have signs explicitly forbidding Shincheonji members. Shincheonji events in South Korea have to be protected by special internal church security forces, because they invariably attract protests from people who have lost family members to the cult. The government of South Korea has banned Shincheonji from advertising in local media.

The sect’s deep unpopularity in South Korea meant that Man Hee Lee had to develop a new strategy for generating positive publicity for Shincheonji. He founded a “volunteer” organisation called Mannam to target foreigners. The organisation explicitly claimed not to be religious, but the key leadership was identical to Shincheonji’s. Mannam hosted peace walks and parties for foreigners in South Korea to demonstrate that the church had widespread support.

In 2012, Mannam advertised (in English) a World Peace Ceremony at the Seoul Olympic Stadium, to which it invited thousands of foreigners, with no mention of Shincheonji. In Korean, however, it advertised the Shincheonji 6th Olympiad, taking place at the Seoul Olympic Stadium, at the same day and time. By publicising the large foreign audience at the event, Shincheonji was able to argue that it is a globally relevant organisation.

However, many of the people conned into attending the 2012 Mannam event were angered and frightened when they realised the close links between Mannam and Shincheonji. Mannam was disbanded, but in 2014 a new organisation was founded under the name HWPL with Man Hee Lee as chairman. In 2014, they hosted the World Alliance of Religions for Peace Summit, inviting government and civil society leaders from around the world.

Although neither Shincheonji nor Mannam were mentioned in English at the summit, attendees noted that all of the South Korean participants made the Shincheonji hand signal (thumb and index finger extended) when cameras were pointed at them. Based on the invitations that they had received, many of the participants believed that they were going to Seoul to participate in discussions and workshops or to chair panels about issues relevant to peace building. However, there were no discussions — the programme was dominated by peace marches and mass rallies with long speeches by Man Hee Lee.

In the speeches, Man Hee Lee’s solution for world peace was for all people to unite and accept one religion — his own. The participants were divided into small groups, each of which was closely monitored by a pair of minders, who forced the participants to attend every event and demanded that they look happy for the cameras.

This month, Man Hee Lee held yet another mass event, again using vague platitudes about world peace to bring international figures to South Korea to legitimise his cult. One of the key demands in the “Peace Law” that the leaders signed is that “states should foster religious freedom by allowing members of religious communities to practise their religion, whether in public or in private”. While freedom of religion is certainly a critical aspect of a free nation, this clause seems primarily aimed at the South Korean government, which Man Hee Lee feels persecuted by because of the limitations on Shincheonji in South Korea.

Chidyausiku was not the only national figure duped into providing support for Man Hee Lee’s cult. HWPL boasts that Ali Abu Diak, the Palestinian Minister of Justice, and Lex Mpati, the president of the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa, both gave speeches at the event last week.

At the 2014 event, a video of South African cleric Desmond Tutu praising HWPL’s peace initiative was screened.

However, when Tutu realised that his video was being used to endorse Man Hee Lee’s cult, he retracted his statement and ordered HWPL to remove the video from their website. Chidyausiku, on the other hand, was warmly praised in a national newspaper for his participation. Unlike Tutu, Chidyausiku either somehow failed to realise the nature of the event he had participated in or lacked the integrity to admit that he had been lured to South Korea under false pretenses.

As the Chief Justice, Chidyausiku is responsible for some of the most important decisions in Zimbabwe. As Zimbabweans, how do we feel about our most senior judge flying to South Korea, wasting days of office time at a conference with no tangible or meaningful outcome, legitimising a religious cult and then allowing state media to praise his bold contributions to the cause of peace?

Morris is working as a researcher in Harare. — helenmorris267@gmail.com

34 thoughts on “When a whole Chief Justice falls for a ruse”

  1. Wisdomtooth says:

    Thank you for this bust. It very much tells us the kind of leadership we have. When does this end really?

  2. Bexilford says:

    Its the sanctions causing stupidity

  3. Given that we already have the leaders of local quasi-Christian cults endorsed by the Zimbabwean leadership, this deplorable event should come as no surprise.

  4. E Makhate says:

    It is now a fact that this British education has made us stupid. This man is a chief justice?

  5. gnomic says:

    yah that is how low we have sunk as a nation and I believe it will take long to root out this idiocy

  6. Olive Nash says:

    I am not sure if you saw the caliber of legal experts on the committee that drafted the law? They were legal experts from around the globe and I am sure they were fully aware of these allegations. Despite the allegations you are mentioning they still spent 5 months drafting this law (which is in fact an amazing piece of legislation and for me seems to be a tangible outcome indeed). I think we need to think a little harder before we follow what the rest of the world says.

  7. Jonel says:

    I remember reading an article about how Nelson Mandela was the 666 and how he is the Antichrist. Also Ghandi, Mother Theresa…. It’s really sad how journalism has become nothing more than sensationalist hear-say. Please stop feeding us lies and calling them news through discrediting the work of others 🙂

  8. PeaceZimbabwe says:

    I dont think we should tread on both of them with the same maner. cult ? This attitude will kill many. Have you really researched on the org? If someone prolaim peace, is that cult? This ignorance devastate any good cause and heros like our African comrades who struggled for peace. Thise who misunderstands will create prejudice and i think this article itself is very blinded.

    You should research what the intl law is about and the committe that drafted this declaration.
    Then you wont say anything bad but support.

  9. John says:

    I think it’s amazing work what HWPL is doing. They seem to continually shatter the expectations of the critics. I don’t understand why people keep trying to persecute the work that is being done. Have you seen the presidents, prime ministers, chief justices, political and religious leaders that are part of this work. Also through the implementation of this law that has been drafted after months and months of research we can now see a practical solution for peace. How can one deny this work?

    We must all love, forgive and bless for a world of peace to come.

  10. Farfan Volo says:

    If I look at the panel of legal experts and the draft for the law it genuinely looks like they have given thought to this.

    Seems a bit far fetched to believe all these people were tricked into attending, and this is not the first event that has been hosted for this cause, and many of the attendees were the same people.

    I think the more concerning question is why is a media outlet discouraging groups (religious or not) from gathering to discuss peace matters…with corruption, wars and religious division plaguing this continent, I am glad to see some leaders willing to do something about it.

  11. James says:

    James March 29, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    If one wants to criticize the Zimbabwe government’s time management, I feel that there are better places to start.

    Personally I found it refreshing to see such leaders involve themselves and their authorites in a cause that works for the advancement of more than just their own agendas , as so often is not the case in this country.

    Having read extensively about the HWPL proclamation ceremony as well as the World Alliance of Religions Peace Summit hosted by the same organization in 2014, I find the solutions proposed and conducted by the organization practical and effective.

    It is evident that current international legislature for cessation of war is ineffective and this calls on legal experts from all around the globe – Zimbabwe included – to work for a improvement of this legislature.

    I say well done to the Chief Justice and all those present for taking a proactive step to remedy this.

    When reporting in media, we have the responsibility to report news that is accurate and non biased. I feel that this article may fall short of this duty.

    I do hope readers are not encouraged to adopt similarly cynical viewpoints.

  12. Sam thomas says:

    Indeed I think we should look at this at both sides and really understand the meaning behind this work.
    This International Law will be presented to the United Nations and why would highly educated people get themselves involved in this work?
    I also read that the chairperson of this organization ended a conflict which was had been taking place for 40years in the Philippines Mindinao

  13. Jack N says:

    I had a look at this after reading the article. I personally think it is admirable that anyone is making an effort for peace, whether it is the Organisation’s leader or the Chief Justices. Also, after reading the draft of the law they are proposing, if this could be implemented it would really be a good thing.

  14. James Fish says:

    Surely it is a noble thing that the Chief Justice has done, attending an event that is trying to bring about world peace. Surely we as Zimbabwe need peace more than ever, and should try by any means to find a solution!

    As far as I have read, many of the world leaders that attended this event are well aware of all these false rumors about the organization, but they take part anyway because they see the good work and they don’t believe the lies and Ill wishes spread in the media.

    Will peace come by writing articles like this? Will peacd come by just sitting at home and doing nothing?

    Please can the author show what she has done in creating a world of peace, apart from writing articles based on rumors and slandering and persecuting something that seems to be doing only good work.

    Is it wrong to write an international law for peace! Is it wrong to do volunteer work? Is it wrong to try and unite people to create peace?

    Good work has been persecuted all through history. Even Mahtma Gandhi was called a cult leader. Even people persecuted and tried to kill Mandela in his own country.

    What kind of person is it that spreads lies, rumors and bad things about good work?

    Please we should focus on the good work and look at the positive, and spread the positive things!

    Let’s support the Chief Justice in trying to do something good.

    What have you done to try and change the country?

  15. Tinashe West says:

    “When a whole Chief Justice…” hahaha this header doesnt make sense anyway last I checked Google Nelson Mandela was the antiChrist and the 666 I think you need to check your facts. Also if there are more events that HWPL does I think we should go (you included) just to see their side of the story

  16. Farai Simba says:

    I am not sure how legit these accusations are. Given our economy isn’t great or stable currently, but I think the Chief Justices efforts here are to better the country and bring about something all our people want.

    Given the people that attended we see that this is just bigger than an individual or a couple of allegations, but that this is about the world finally uniting around this noble cause.

    Given the caliber of individuals in attendance I think they did their research beforehand and still supported the message given the ground breaking work that the organisation and law is doing.

  17. Sne says:

    I think before following just an article that you read and saying poor leadership, then maybe you should follow the event and see who attended, many Chief Justices all around the world attended the event because they are legal experts who always want conflict resolution in their respective countries, you should be proud that your chief justice is taking initiative and seeking means to make the country a better place and not just sitting .

    Legal experts from around the globe drafted this law, so how is it a 1 man show?
    If this is a law to bring peace, how is it a problem/ a bad thing?

    We need to think a little harder as people

  18. Walter says:

    After reading this article I went and read up on the law being proposed, this seems to be something great- I would want this for the country.

    What proof is there for all these allergations you make, this is poor reporting- if media just wants to spread bad news, where is the good? Why didnt you cover this law and also what you have wrote?

    I think I will start following what this organization is doing, I think they may be on to something.

  19. Lenox says:

    I really don’t see the reason of speaking such words against our Chief Justice. The event was not about creating nuclear weapons, but it was about peace and how we can make it a reality.

    If the Chairman of HWPL wrote this international law himself, then maybe we would have to worried. but he is inviting law experts from all around the world, so that all those who love peace can work together.

    I think that the reporter should attend one of the events and not use google as a reference for gathering facts. I don’t know much about the Chairman of HWPL, but if through this international law, all wars will be illegal and come to an end, then I think all those who love peace should be in support of this work.

  20. African Prince of Peace says:

    I have read through the article and i commend the Chief Justice for taking initiative to go to this event in South Korea. I wish more leaders and countries can get involved. The world is crying out for Cessation of War and it looks like Mr Lee has the answers.


  21. Ntswaki Moloi says:

    I personally support the work HWPL is doing. Man hee Lee has genuinely given up all his life for the work of Peace, of which no one has ever done that before. Is that being a cult?

    I support World peace and I am so thankful that we have such an organization called HWPL

  22. Sam says:

    As a fellow zimbabwean, I think it is actually a step towards a true change, for Zimbabwe, especially if our leaders are participating in new ventures that will bring about some kind of change for us, one way or another. Surely our leaders are well educated enough to recognize what to pay attention to. I’m quite impressed that various leaders and law experts from different countries are coming together to draft this.
    Well done to Zimbabwean Chief Justice. The essence of the work is inspiring.

  23. Samantha says:

    This is very funny – demanded them to look happy for cameras, at you reading what you write? Hahaha this doesn’t even seem real. Where are you getting all of this from , I’d just like the point of reference. Hahaha this is so silly, logically- why would someone invite everyone in the world to draft the law. And if he’s such a monster why is he drafting a law to benefit everyone, shouldn’t he then be drafting laws to benefit whatever bad thing he is aparently doing.
    I’m sorry but I really find this article pathetic and silly, just someone trying to turn something good into gossip to make themselves get ahead

  24. Zim says:

    The event seems to have been well attended by legal experts from all over the world. I find it very difficult to believe that they were ALL “duped” into something like this. Surely they were all aware of the things written about in here.

    And the way I see it, if there is someone is working to make this world even a little bit better to live in, then everyone should support it. Or if you won’t support it, then at the very least, don’t stand in their way.

  25. Ruth Brooklyn says:

    OMW how shocking is this. Do you think all those chief justices and minister of justices around the world including our Chief Justice are dumb like that? Surely, they did all the research about the organization before. I think the one who wrote this article should be fired. How can you write such an article like this about our chief justice with the information gathered from non-reliable resource?(I dont even know where you gathered this info) I wonder if the part about Tutu is true, I will to ask the foundation.

  26. Amanda says:

    After reading this article, I wanted to understand more about this organisation and the International Law spoken about.
    I personally commend all those who are part of this movement, its refreshing to see that people still desire to see a better world amongst all this chaos..and more so, are doing something about it.

    Why wouldn’t the Chief Justice want to witness such great work, not only for himself but also for the future of his country!
    This is history in the making..

  27. Tonny Tshetu says:

    It really doesn’t make sense, how can you say such words against the noble idea that the whole global community had put their effort on. This kind of attitude can’t be tolerated, would you stop wars and bring peace to the world by your negative mindset? You need to change your mindset and follow the work of peace.

  28. Zoleka B says:

    I commend Chief Justice Chidyausiku for participating in an event geared towards achieving peace. A gathering of so many international law experts to create what could possibly be the solution to all the armed conflict in the world, in my eyes, is a glimmer of hope for a much better future for all citizens of the global community. Having read the law, I’m confident that it’s adoption by the UN is not very far off.

    If doing good was as easy as it is to sit behind a laptop and write cynical, misguided articles there would be no need for the work HWPL is doing. We need to either be those who really seek to gain understanding and support the good that others are doing or stand back and allow them to create a better world for us all to live in.

  29. Mae Botha says:

    I was quite surprised to see that a media outlet such as yourselves can even run with a story like this.

    Surely as a nation we want to promote peace and create a nation where there is no discrimination based on political, religious or cultural beliefs.

    After reading this article I’ve done a bit of research and I’m confused… how is it possible that all these well educated leaders were tricked? Surely there’s a reason they all attended? The experts that have drafted the law are part of UN and leaders within their respective countries. This law is seems to be working towards a sustainable solution for peace.

    As a Zimbabwean I’m thankful that we have a chief justice who is considering the future of our people and actively working to leave a world of peace. It’s definitely what this country and the world needs more of.

  30. Edward Sakeus says:

    I fully support the work of HWPL and in support with our chief justice who has taken the degree to be part of this great! Looking at the panel that is involved with law experts. ..I am sure they have done their research, looking at this point, those that have probably done better than than you…how is the work of HWPL cult, what you are spreading is lies that will affect youth at large…Please do your research well.

  31. Joshua says:

    This is the most unintelligent article I have ever read. Its unbelievable that the editor allowed you to publish this.

    The most intelligent and respected legal experts attended this event and are running with Mr Man Hee Lee because they were tricked!!!???

    Such reporting really affects the credibility of the Zimbabwean media and as a fellow countrymen of Zimbabwe, if I had the power, I would charge you with treason for making such claims against the Chief Justice and slandering his noble efforts that will leave a great legally for our children and future generations.

    Mr Man Hee Lee sounds like a man sent by Heaven to me. After all , was Christ not also called the Prince of Peace?? Are you also going to accuse him of being a cult leader like the Pharisees did in the first coming?

    Your baseless opinions are primitive and so 2016 years old, it’s really insulting that you undermine the intelligence of world leaders and great statesmen like this, worse of your own countrymen to expect them to buy into such views being reported by your Newspaper.

    It’s really a pity and saddens me so reading this.:-(

    Question for you sir/madam:


  32. Elione says:

    Am not from Zimbabwe, but I wish that the chief justice from my country attended this meeting. As someone who was born under violence and war my dream has always been a world without war and conflicts.

    Ever since i read about HWPL and the work that Man Hee Lee is doing I had no doubts that a mere man can’t achieve such results on his own unless the creator helps.

    Peace is not a project elaborated by man, it’s the desire of The MosT High God and whoever goes against it, personally I think that they are the origin of wars.

    Please be careful with what you say and spread out about such work. Am sure you wouldn’t mind if the Chief Justice went to meet any Hollywood celebrity. Would you?????

    Só I support and support again the work of HWPL and hope that one day my country wil also join in such work for the global community.

  33. Lover of peace says:

    Ignorance is very dangerous. One needs to reflect upon themselves first and see if you are that person who believe roumers or truth. If you are that person who believes what you only hear from people and not want to find the truth by yourself then you should be worried, that is not being human.

    As for you writter I am certain you dont even know and understand how much sacrifice our fathers and mothers gave through all the difficulties so that you can even be educated today. Some of them gave up their lives.
    If you knew and understood this, you wouldnt be writting all this sickness you wrote, rather you would support this great and amazing work of peace.

    Oh and guess who wasted office time? Is it not the person that wrote this article instead of doing something valuable.

    HWPL is doing an amazing work…..

  34. Peaceboy says:

    All the positive comments in this page were
    written by brainwashed shincheonji members

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