PROPHET DOCTOR WALTER MAGAYA, THE RAPIST?
PROPHET DOCTOR WALTER MAGAYA THE RAPIST?
By Brian Maregedze
Prophets in Zimbabwe have been involved in various scandals which include duping congregants of the hard earned money, property related matters as well as other business dealings. Recent media reports have turned to Walter Magaya’s trial of alleged rape and unlawful termination of pregnancy set for April 2018. This whole issue brings memories of the so called prophets in Zimbabwe in light of the abuse of women in general. It is no doubt that the ZANU PF led government has been accused over the recent years of silencing the clergy, prophets, religious leaders by way of character assassination and other machinations related to women rape cases. Interestingly, the so called new political dispensation which took shape in November 2017 with the leadership of Emmerson Mnangagwa seems to leave thinkers, analysts being confronted with new approaches to challenges of dealing with prophets and the believers. Are there any possibilities for changes from Robert Mugabe led regime on matters of state-church relations? Of all matters to do with prophets, why has Magaya’s case, still outstanding despite changes in leadership within the ruling party ZANU PF? This blog post seeks to use M. Hove and Chenzi’s article as a locus of enunciation so to borrow from the decolonial dictionary, as they posit a Robert Mugabe who labelled Pentecostal prophets, as prophets of doom before his political demise.
Late last year, Walter Magaya appeared in the Herald Newspaper of November 29 2017 titled, Meet Magaya the Philanthropist. A Philanthropist simply relates to a person who loves mankind, the human race in general as emphasized by the English Oxford Dictionary. Generosity forms the focal point of understanding Philanthropy. The Herald Newspaper narrative starts by referring to a Walter Magaya teenage experience, persuading his parents to take care of Nyasha whom they had seen scavenging for food in the streets of Harare. Nyasha who had spent most of the time staying in the streets got the opportunity of a lifetime on this incident and now based in South Africa. For Magaya’s community building, the University of South Africa (Unisa) honoured him with a Doctorate degree in recognition of his works in various communities. It was further reported that Magaya had made donations regionally in countries like South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Swaziland as well as outside the region with Portugal and United Kingdom not left out. The heart for the marginalized is articulated on the part of the Magaya, and in Zimbabwe constructing a school for the Doma people found in Mashonaland Central Province. Added to this is that, the Doma people will attend the school for free. His (Magaya) philanthropic works have also been traced from his days as a Roman Catholic follower under the Blood of the Lamb Christian Community which is a charismatic movement. Many other projects have been identified but the paradox of the matter now haunting Magaya is that of rape cases. Other roles attached to Magaya include being a farmer, prophet, businessmen among others. The story of Magaya’s honourary degree also came at a time when efforts by many Zimbabwean leaders seeking to attain titles of being called Doctors (Dr.). What is in an honourary degree? Perhaps some other day, this question will be adequately dealt with.
Walter Magaya and Rape
A number of scholars have tended to position Walter Magaya as a victim of the ZANU PF regime in light of the various rape cases levelled against him. Mediel Hove and Vincent Chenzi (2017) argue that Robert Mugabe used various tactics to silence Walter Magaya deploying, character assassination, rape charges, arrests, court trials and false accusations among others. This is in relation to Walter Magaya being among the league of religious leaders who castigated the Mugabe led regime. These two academics can be observed to be developing their position based on the background which they draw their examples from religious leaders like Pius Ncube the former Roman Catholic Bulawayo Archbishop who is also known as an advocate of human rights allegedly video sex scandal in 2007. It has also become common that whenever self-claimed prophets are involved in various scandals, ZANU PF has been accused of being involved whether with or without evidence to sustain such notions. The case of Gumbura of the End Time Message bears testimony to some of the narratives.
Caption of photo courtesy of Herald Newspaper Prophet Doctor Walter Magaya.
A closer reading of media narratives demonstrate that, Walter Magaya had initially argued that he could not be tried for a rape case since the complainant of the matter had voluntarily dropped the charges. However, Magaya’s challenge was dismissed by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) leaving him facing new charges of unlawful termination of pregnancy and obstructing and defeating the course of justice charge (Gift Mawire, 2018). This case has been scheduled for 3 April 2018. Why then is the story of Walter Magaya worth some reflections? Far from the narratives that have been perpetuated, I seek to take a different dimension which focuses on all females in general. To believers, followers of Magaya, they are some who view him as a victim of the political leadership whilst to some character assassination by the local media but I contend for the need to move beyond such an approach as the prevalence of rape cases and so called prophets remains an anathema.
Of Nigerian Prophets and Walter Magaya
The story of Walter Magaya is not new considering the way prophets in general have been involved in sexual assaults of female church members. T. B. Joshua a Nigerian prominent prophet is viewed as the mentor of the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries (PhD) founder and leader Walter Magaya. Chima Aguzae (2016) critically analyses on the role played by Pentecostal prophets Southern Nigeria who are involved in rape cases in the name of exorcising believers that is “spiritual cleansing”. Some of the forms of sexual abuse which have led to sexual exploitation of women include; poverty, unemployment, pedophilia, displacement, orphan hood, a parent’s /guardian’s illness or death, dysfunctional government, among other factors. Due to fear of demons, women have been cornered into sexual assaults by mainly male prophets in Nigeria. Zimbabwe is not left out in this whole aspect. Herbert Senda of the Johanne Masowe WeChishanu YeNyenyedzi as reported by the Herald Newspaper also expose how the self-proclaimed prophet told a woman that his manhood would heal her. The woman had problems which are not indicated in the story. This story reflects on some examples drawn in Nigeria by Chima Aguzae. On whether Magaya is a true or false prophet, l have dealt with debates on true and false prophets elsewhere, hence consciously leaving out that debate. Magaya is sometimes labelled as the Anointed One as stated by David Garrard (2017). Sexual assaults are brought in the name of being sanctified of worldly challenges. The next blog post shall make an attempt to discuss the topic of abortion and the Bible.
The story of Walter Magaya and the rape case/s brings memories of how prophets are not only viewed in good faith but rather they should be taken with a critical eye as they can commit heinous crimes on humanity, the flock they claim to protect become victims. The narrative of character assassination demands some revisits. Female believers, law enforcement agents should be vigilant in as far these so called prophets are concerned. It is still a thorny issue to make believers view their church leaders with a pinch of salt. Human rights activists should also play their part in challenging the church on these aspects as its position is being tainted now and again. As the law courts are unearthing the story of Walter Magaya, Emmanuel Makandiwa has not been left out in a contentious case with a couple which is claiming to have been duped. Was Robert Mugabe apt when he labelled these prophets as prophets of doom in light of these cases levelled against them? Food for thought.
Email; [email protected]
Author, historian & columnist