- (Photo: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)
Zimbabwe's prime minister and opposition presidential candidate has reportedly invited a controversial Christian minister to speak at the African country's National Day of Prayer event on May 25. The invitation is being fiercely opposed by President Robert Mugabe's party after the minister is believed to have prophesied the 88-year-old leader's death.
The faith healer in question is Temitope Balogun Joshua, who is accused by senior officials of being a "Satanist" and "false prophet" for teaching what the ZANU-PF calls "judgmental, partisan, and unorthodox" messages. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai invited Joshua to the May 25 event. The controversial minister claims to have healed people suffering illnesses through prayer and is believed to have made accurate prophecies concerning figures in the country. Most recently, Joshua has been accused of making a prophecy believed to predict Mugabe's death.
"TB Joshua uses evil powers which are satanic and satanic powers can also work. TB Joshua's visit does not scare me because he is not God. What are people scared of? What is he coming for? Does he have power to take life?" said Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga.
Joshua, who leads the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Nigeria, where an estimated 15,000 people attend his Sunday services, reportedly may have a reliable track record. The Atlantic shared that the evangelist predicted last month that "an African leader" would die, just days before the president of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, died on April 5 of a heart attack.
What reportedly might be troubling President Mugabe is that Joshua has recently predicted that another African leader will fall "critically ill' and be hospitalized soon. Zimbabwe's leader, who is 88 years old, has had many health scares in the past and has had to undergo treatment for heart problems and prostate cancer.
Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, said in February on his birthday, "I have died many times. That's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once."
The National Day of Prayer event that Tsvangirai is helping organize may also build support for the prime minister, as Joshua is considered a popular preacher in Africa and enjoys a good deal of support from some sections of Zimbabwe's predominantly Christian population.
According to a 2007 U.S. state government report on Zimbabwe, between 70 and 80 percent of the population belong to mainstream Christian denominations, such as Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Methodist. Evangelical denominations, primarily Pentecostal churches and apostolic groups, have been reported to be on the rise.
Joshua also has affiliated congregations in Ghana, the U.K., South Africa, and Greece.