Lovemore Chikova Harare Bureau
Thousands of United Family International Church members yesterday marched through the streets of Harare ahead of the church’s mega event dubbed Judgement Night 2 set for Saturday night at the National Sports Stadium.
The march came as Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said tourism could benefit nearly $4 million from both domestic and international visitors for the all-night meeting.
UFIC is lead by Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa who has described the night, where at least 150,000 people are expected to attend, as “a defining moment”.
Arrangements have been made to accommodate many of the participants outside the giant stadium which has an official carrying capacity of 60,000.
The UFIC members, clad in T-shirts inscribed with messages on Judgement Night 2 and singing songs of victory, marched from the City Sports Centre on the outskirts of the central business district through Samora Machel Avenue and Sam Nujoma Street.
The march, whose human convoy stretched for more than three kilometres, was led by the Zimbabwe National Army brass band which played its popular tunes and drum majorettes.
The march ended at Africa Unity Square where the church members celebrated in anticipation of the Judgement Night 2, before they were dismissed.
Speaking before the march, UFIC spokesperson Pastor Prime Kufakunesu said it was symbolic.
“The march has spiritual implications,” he said. “We are showing the spirit that makes you ill, makes you sick, makes your business not to work and witchcraft that we are ready,” he said.
“We are not just marching for nothing, but we know that there is a statement that we are going to make in the spirit.”
The march was characterised by a clean-up campaign where members of the church’s cleaning department swept parts of the streets.
It was a culmination of other marches that took place in other major centres in recent days as the church prepares for Judgement Night 2.
Speaking on the church’s Christtv.co, Kaseke said Judgement Night 2 was an attraction for both domestic and international tourists.
“The economic impact of such type of tourism, for example, I am talking of just one occasion called Judgement Night, our hotels will be overbooked and we estimated the tourism impact for that one night that it could be plus or minus $4 million,” he said.
“What if they had been there for a week? But it’s not only Judgement Night where Prophet Makandiwa attracts huge crowds. Every other occasion that Prophet Makandiwa is preaching attracts a lot of attention, it attracts a lot of crowds and we are simply saying that is religious tourism.”
Kaseke said between 15,000 and 20,000 foreigners were expected for the event, with 8,000 having confirmed their arrival by last week.
“Our hotels are already full as we are talking now, we are simply saying this is the impact of religious tourism to the economy. When the hotels are full, it keeps people busy, it creates employment,” he said.