University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been canvassing political support in the church to prolong its stay at State House.
Unnamed senior ZANU PF officials recently told The NewsHawks that Mnangagwa and the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa have decided to harvest support in churches following an Afrobarometer survey report released in June this year.
The Afrobarometer report indicated a rise in the popularity of CCC leader Nelson Chamisa against waning support for Mnangagwa.
The key finding of the survey was that if elections were held at that juncture, 33% of the respondents were going to vote for Chamisa while 30% would vote for Mnangagwa.
Speaking to The NewsHawks, Masunungure said the First Family is now frequenting churches not for the love of Jesus but for love of power. He said:
This goes to show the enormous and increasing power of the religious factor, particularly the indigenous African churches as well as the Pentecostals.
Remember, according to the recent Afrobarometer survey (March-April 2022), 90% of Zimbabweans declared that they are Christians.
This is coupled with the fact that religious leaders are by far the most trusted among public figures, with 71% of adult citizens saying they trust them compared to the next most trusted institutions, traditional leaders who attract 58% trust levels.
In short, the first family – President and First Lady – have their fingers on the pulse.
But, let’s be clear: it’s not for the love of Jesus or the Bible but for love of power that proximity to religious figures yields.
Also note that traditional leaders have long been targeted and are now in the fold, and so are many other socio-political demographic groups.
This is all part of a total strategy that leaves no stone unturned on the road to retaining State House.
Masunungure added that Mnangagwa’s strategy to lure churches could garner votes for him in next year’s elections. He said:
The chances are extremely high, especially in respect of the above religious movements – indigenous and pentecostal– where often the word of the bishop is taken as a directive to the congregants and there is little to no room for dissenting voices and defiant actions.
ZANU PF officials including Mnangagwa, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and the First Lady have been frequenting countless churches.
On 16 July, Mnangagwa was in Mafararikwa at St Noah where he attended the Passover Service of the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church.
That same day, the First Lady and Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa were in Mutare, attending an Apostolic Ejuweni Jekenisheni church service.
On 2 July, Chiwenga was at the Catholic-run Monte Cassino Girls High School in Macheke.
On 7 August, Mnangagwa attended a service at Zion Christian Church at Defe Dopota. He was accompanied by the First Lady.
More: The NewsHawks