Letter from America: Visiting with the saints in Masvingo

I found two motifs affecting Zimbabwean life, both operating at the same levels simultaneously.

BY KENNETH MUFUKA Nigerians say that if a situation reaches a very bad state of affairs, it will always get “more worse” before it gets better.

As is my habit, my first call in Zimbabwe was with Fabian Mabaya and Ms. Happiness his wife. Now Ms. Happiness is a wonderful hostess. When everybody had gone to sleep, I stayed at my student desk which she had provide and wrote some notes.

I found two motifs affecting Zimbabwean life, both operating at the same levels simultaneously. Lifting the Covid-19 ban on travel and general fellowship among citizens, has revealed the extreme poverty now affecting about half the population of Zimbabwe. At the same time, while the moral and economic situation in Zimbabwe has reached an explosive situation, Zimbabweans remain creative and resilient. Among the non-traditional churches, I found a prophetic spirit which has escaped the mainstream churches.

Since I was on a lecture tour, the Reverend Mandhla Ndlovu and his wife Ms. Faith invited me to Bethel Church to bear witness to the love of Christ.

Like William Booth of the Salvation Army and John Wesley of the Methodists, these non-traditional churches are ministering to the widow, the orphan, and the indigent in the gate. Poverty abounds, unemployment is rife; and drug addiction is spreading among the poor as well as among the spoiled rich kids.

Mabaya had told me, “Kenny, people are suffering, go and see for yourself.” But I jump the gun.

I shall describe the suffering I saw below.

These out of the mainstream churches address the people’s needs where they are. The people “are suffering” need to be reminded even though the Philistines show utter contempt of their needs, they are “somebody” in God’s eyes and that it is better to be a servant in God’s house than to be a lord in a morally fifthly Philistine environment. “Hold your head high, you are a child of God.” Martin Luther King.

Pastor Ndlovu asked the new converts to stand up and share their testimony. One woman stood up to say that she had found herself at the door of the church. Another, in the manner of the righteous Ruth in the Bible, said she had brought her mother-in-law to God’s house. A student at Great Zimbabwe University, a poet, had heard that Professor Ken was visiting.

Ngoni Guramatunhu was nine years old when he composed a poem at Nerupiri Primary School in Gutu paramountcy. The poem was called Shava, the Eland, why have you shown mercy upon those of us who have nothing to give you in return. When I returned two weeks later, Ngoni had been expelled for lack of school fees. The school fees at the time was US$5 per semester. We cried and prayed for God’s mercy.

Ngoni returned to school with a bursary from Mufuka Family Trust. He had come to testify about God’s mercy which has uplifted people of low status like him. He has since published a book of poems and the sky is the limit.

After sharing my testimony, and strengthening the saints in love, even the resilient Mabaya was moved by the Holy Spirit. The Bishop joined us at this time, and the Holy Spirit came upon the saints and we praised God.

Now, I turn to the Philistines, who had made our land a desert, and who walk proudly praising themselves for the cruelties they have visited upon the people.

The great corruption in Zimbabwe today is that the Philistines have made sure that there are two kinds of money, the US dollar which is a store of value and which circulates largely among themselves and the Zee dollar, which is worthless and circulates among the majority of God’s children.

But within this situation, one finds resilience and compassion among ordinary people which is absent among the Philistines.

If one stands outside TM Pick n Pay Supermarket in Masvingo, with a US$50 bill in one hand as if to enter the store, one will find some solicitous women milling around the centre.

“Baba, are you going to shop with that big bill?” They will ask. “Please use my card, and I will pour money in your Ecocash.”

This is an act of shrewdness. The TM value is 356 Zees to US one dollar. By making this generous exchange, the poor women get 600 Zees from Vakomana and get away with murder in the eyes of the Philistines.

One cannot live an honest life here, a woman whispered in my year.

The Vakomana (plural) who are employed by the Philistines, sit on chairs in broad daylight doing business.

Very often, I have seen a cashier in a store, refer customers to Vakomana as an act of charity.

Here is a situation where disobeying an evil law may be doing the right thing.

One of the saddest stories in Zimbabwe is the plight of pensioners. The average pension payout per month is Zee 2 000 dollars.

When the property rates, water bills, electricity and sewage bills when combined, in a high-density Masvingo area amount to Zee 23 000 dollars per month.

This is way above what a pensioner earns. Almost everybody in that situation must live outside the law.

There are long lines of goods displayed all over the streets for miles. Building portable sheds require carpentry skills. The sellers, who leave their telephone numbers on the building, are subject to blackmail by police. Government says 80% of all businesses are unlicensed.

Licensed taxis (red number plates) drivers find themselves in constant alterations with the police than if they operated as private cars for hire.

The crash of the fake Zee dollar has already happened. Market women now ask for US dollars. One cannot buy bread in Zee dollars anymore. But the Philistines are committed to their voodoo economics. They continue to say big words, abracadabra, and hope that the world will be fooled by their shenanigans.

Meanwhile the Philistine officers at Harare central office engage in registering their clients for services rendered. It never occurred to these uncivil officers that they could work with the Post Office. Nor Siree, the customer must walk two blocks to Causeway Post Office and then return to NSSA building.

  • Professor Ken Mufuka is on a lecture tour of East and Southern Africa. He can be reached at [email protected]

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