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Row Erupts Over Mega Churches

Emmanuel Makandiwa
The phenomenon of the Mega Church, which began in America and is fast spreading across Africa in places like Nigeria and Zimbabwe, has become a source of controversy in Harare.

At the weekend Godwin Chitsinde, the leader of the Harare-based Spoken Word Ministries, strongly criticized popular preachers Temitope Balogun, known as TB Joshua of Nigeria, United Families International Church founder Emmanuel Makandiwa and Spirit Embassy leader Uebert Angel Mudzanire - accusing them of cheating their followers.

Chitsinde joins a growing number of traditional pastors who accuse so-called prosperity gospel preachers and natty dressers, like Makandiwa and Angel, of accumulating wealth at the expense of their poor followers.

Makandiwa, who reportedly owns very expensive houses and other properties, has hit back, saying Pastor Chitsinde is simply jealous and wishes he had a larger congregation.

The debate has not spared the first family. President Mugabe, without mentioning names, lashed out at what he called “false prophets and dubious spirit mediums” whom he accused of extorting money from people.

Mr. Mugabe, a Catholic, said some people who claim to see the future are "false prophets".

But First Lady, Grace Mugabe, has named one of the orphans at her Mazowe Children's Home after popular preacher, Emmanuel Makandiwa.

Pastor Angliston Sibanda of the Shalom project is a skeptic. He tells VOA Studio 7’s Chris Gande that these preachers, who refer to call themselves as prophets, are not genuine.
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In response, Pastor Prime Kufa, a spokesman for Prophet Makandiwa, said critics of their gospel do not understand their teachings.
Interview With Pastor Kufa
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The prosperity gospel movement first came to prominence in the United States in the 1950s, but gained traction internationally only in the 1990s.