THE Bible is full of stories about prophets and their various adventures, ranging from warning nations about impending doom and pronouncing good news.
Just like in biblical times, Zimbabwe is endowed with many “prophets”, most of whom prey on the vulnerable, the depressed and deprived with their prosperity gospel.
Their positive message of prosperity and inclusion attracts crowds from all walks of life and their churches soon become a haven of escapism for people afflicted by different societal ills.
Our prophets are masters at convincing their members to litter the offering plates with dollar bills by reminding them that “God loves a cheerful giver.”
From difficult upbringings, most of our prophets have become thriving entrepreneurs that lead lavish lifestyles with mansions and a collection of posh cars.
They have defended their lavish lifestyles by stating that they are examples of how God can transform a person from rags to riches.
However, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) founder and leader, Walter Magaya, is slightly different from other local prophets in that he shuns fine clothing or displaying his riches publicly.
He dresses simply and likes putting on sandals when not preaching, but people still mob him in the streets begging him to lay his hands on their heads and to pray for them.
His army of bodyguards betray the portrayal of humbleness he tries so hard to sell. Although it is difficult to quantify Magaya’s wealth, he has a number of income-generating projects that include guest houses in Harare where international guests stay during his Sunday services.
PHD also sells various anointed items such as wrist bands, oil, stickers and water, which are almost always sold out despite exorbitant pricing. His followers believe they are worth every cent.
Besides his church and a farming venture, Magaya also owns a football club, Yadah Stars FC, which won the Zifa Eastern Region Division One League in 2016 and was promoted into the Premier Soccer League.
His team started well in the PSL, but trouble brewed when they lost 0-1 to Dynamos. They went on to draw 1-1 against Chapungu in their next match, but it soon emerged that all was not well in camp.
Magaya set his preferred team to face Dynamos, but head coach Jairos Tapera made changes in the absence of the prophet, who had attended previous games.
The prophet didn’t take kindly to Tapera’s manoeuvres and he quickly moved to suspend him and his entire technical team for insubordination.
Magaya draws tens of thousands of congregates for his Sunday services at PHD where things are done his way, and how dare Tapera challenge his power.
After all, not only is Magaya the owner of Yadah FC, but he’s also the team’s technical director and Tapera serves at his pleasure.
While Magaya has the right to hire and fire his team’s coaches as he pleases, the contempt he displayed for the PSL, sponsors Delta Beverages and Zifa by sending his team to play a league match against Bantu Rovers was raw.
Not only did Yadah show disrespect to Bantu Rovers and the PSL, but Magaya tested Zifa’s directives that only Caf A Licence holders can sit in a PSL team’s dugout. This was the opportune time for domestic football’s governing body to bare its teeth, but Magaya’s Yadah escaped with a mere warning to put its house in order.
We wonder if the same warning would have been made to any other team or Zifa would have descended heavily on them.
Zifa’s response showed that Magaya doesn’t just enjoy a front position among Zimbabwe’s prophets for nothing. Besides claiming to possess supernatural powers that enable him to heal the sick and cast out demons, Magaya also bails out those in need. Zifa have previously been a beneficiary of the prophet’s generous bailout when the national association was in peril and it was not surprising that it treaded carefully to keep the lines of benevolence open.
But Magaya ought to understand that the PSL is not part of PHD Ministries and our topflight can’t be reduced to a joke due to in-house egos at Yadah FC.
Yadah FC must abide by the rules and keep their internal problems to themselves and not transfer them to the PSL. We expected a newly promoted team to be on its best behaviour and players and their coaches to be allowed to go on about their business without prophecies being forced on them.
Can Yadah FC be about the players and fans and not the owner. We urge Magaya to acquire a Caf A badge if he wants to coach and select his preferred players instead of forcing selection on a hired qualified coach.
We expect respect for individuals and established institutions, especially from one calling himself a “man of God”.