According to a Bulawayo-based tabloid CITE, irked Bulawayo City Councillors reportedly staged a walkout during a prayer meeting for Cyclone Idai victims at Harvest House International Church last Sunday.
Reports are that senior pastor Reverend Frank Kunda had eulogised the ruling party ZANU PF while giving his sermon.
The cleric allegedly praised His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa for “his visionary leadership and foresight” which offended a delegation of the city fathers led by Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni.
Miffed by the spontaneous praise, the mayor staged a walkout with councillors Mlandu Ncube, Sikhululekile Moyo, Shadreck Sibanda, Donaldson Mabutho, Arnold Batirai, Pilate Moyo and Tawanda Ruzive in tow. The councillors all belong to the main opposition party, MDC Alliance, which was renamed MDC.
The mayor explained the furore to CITE, saying they felt offended by the man of the cloth`s behaviour.
Said Mayor Mguni;
“The behaviour offends against the spirit of unity and diversity in the city and more particularly in that, we had been invited to pray for Victims of Cyclone Idai. There was, with respect, no need to politicise the process. It was a call to duty.
People must distinguish a political party business from a government function.”
Among other high-profile officials who attended the church service were Minister of State Judith Ncube, Provincial Administrator Khonzani Ncube, Acting Town Clerk Mrs Sikhangele Zhou and Zanu PF Politburo member Absolom Sikhosana.
The tabloid further established that Mayor Mguni said after they walked out, Minister Ncube tried to do damage control by telling Reverend Sarah Nyathi, wife to the Harvest House International founder Dr Collin Nyathi, that the Mayor had sought to be excused.
Contacted for comment, Harvest House International Church founder Bishop Colin Nyathi said he was not part of the sermon but there were no political statements said during the prayer meeting.
“My wife was there and would have told me if any problems were encountered. She reported the service was interesting and the mayor even stayed for lunch. We do not make any political statements at our church,”he said.
Various churches, conventional and contemporary, have at various times accused of playing partisan politics.
While it is agreeable that churches should not be politically-aligned, but be people inclined at all the times, that does not rule out political involvement of the church.
The main reason why the church must avoid unhealthy leanings is that most members of political parties belong to the same churches. There is, therefore, the danger that a politically-aligned church will try to accommodate opposing parties.
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