I spent the last month discussing the politics of Zimbabwe as the nation geared up for the historic 2018 harmonised elections.
What was interesting about the run up to this election in my view was how the two main candidates ED Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa centred God at the heart of their campaign rhetoric.
“The voice of the people is the voice of God” Mnangagwa bellowed. While Chamisa chanted God is in it.
Largely a peaceful run-up to the election all seemed very well. However, the immediate aftermath of the plebiscite was not peaceful as needless violence broke out and senseless atrocities and loss of life was witnessed.
Christian brother turned against Christian brother as different churches endorsed their preferred presidential candidates.
Prophecies and counter-prophecies were given. One prophet saying God said ED would win it, ED was anointed of God to lead Zimbabwe. While another spoke of Nelson Chamisa as the anointed one to take Zimbabweans from their figurative Egypt to the promised land of Bullet trains Canaan.
Preachers and Politics
Most preachers don’t spend a lot of time on politics in the meetings of their church because politics can be very divisive particularly in Africa where democracy and tolerance are still alien to most who involve themselves in politics. In the end political differences almost always ends up in bloodshed.
However, God calls us to apply the Scriptures to every part of our lives, including our approach to political questions. But the instruction to “put not your trust in princes” (Psalm 146:3) is particularly relevant when the political parties reject peace Biblical truth and morality to endanger and put lives in harms way.
Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. There are many more pressing issues in the life of believers than being used as pawns in political contentions.
The biggest problem particularly in Zimbabwe is the church particularly the prophetic churches who cosy up to the politicians and end up pronouncing false prophecies and claims that God said this politician or that one would lead.
We have enough political propaganda as it is and some of these prophetic endorsements are really not necessarily helpful particularly to a people in a nation that believes everything these so-called- men of God utter.
Religion and government both need their independence
What has become apparent in the case of Zimbabwe is that religion and government are like a couple who sometimes have a hard time living together but who find they simply cannot live apart.
Indeed, religion and government both need their independence in order to flourish, but history has shown that a complete divorce is healthy for neither.
Politicians in Zimbabwe have taken advantage of this, they have seen how the plethora of these young prophets want to be associated with influential characters and powerful political leaders in order to gain mileage themselves.
In the process they become less cognisant of the fact that religion and politics travel different but parallel tracks. They are most successful and most effective when they protect and encourage one another, as opposed to one being in the pocket of the other.
This is not an attack on the church as a whole it is but particular to the wayward prophets who are now in the habit of giving false hope to people when they declare that God said this one will be the next president or leader.
The Church has an important role
The Church in general is very important to our nation as Zimbabweans one would even argue that Societies depend in large part upon religion and churches to establish moral order. Government can never build enough jails to house the criminals produced by a society lacking in morality, character, and faith. These attributes are better encouraged by religious observance than by legislative decree or police force.
It is impossible for government to control the attitudes, desires, and hopes that spring from the human heart. And yet these are the seeds that grow into the conduct government must regulate.
When the prophets get it wrong
In the case of Zimbabwe where a number of prophets had said a young leader would win and take Zimbabweans to the figurative Canaan, how does the leader of a prophetic church that gave a prophecy that a particular leader will be president go in front of his congregates to say it did not happen as God had shown me previously but let’s maintain peace and accept the results.
They can not say the will of God did not prevail they do not want to say their prophecies were false.
It is for this reason that I argue that the church as an institution, must repeatedly affirm its political neutrality, church leaders must try best they could to remain active but neutral with regards party politics.
Even government need not take sides in matters of churches or religion in the country. Government should not foster or favor one religion over another. Its representatives must be free to believe and practice according to the dictates of their own conscience. By the same token, good religion should neither endorse nor oppose any political party or candidate. And its believers must be free and even encouraged to participate in the political process and to support whichever party or candidate they think best.
We are committed to delivering quality independent Christian journalism you can trust. But it takes a lot of hard work, time, and money to do what we do. Help us continue to be a voice for truth in the media. Support Onward Christian Magazine for as little as £1.