THE combination of clergymen, rape and political opponents is proving to be notoriously inseparable.

Prophet Magaya (photo: B Kanhamora).

Prophet Magaya (photo: B Kanhamora).

For decades, it has been a case of the same story and a different day for the clergymen in Zimbabwe each time they are caught on the other side of Biblical instruction.

On the one hand, we cannot also underestimate political influence in religious matters; politicians do dabble in religious matters and their crooked hand cannot be overlooked.

The recent arrest of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Walter Magaya over allegations of raping a 25­-year-­old woman last year captured the attention of the nation at large and social media in particular. It became the topic everywhere.

The massive interest in the matter comes not so much because people have become overly religious, but because of the influence and impact brought by the charismatic prophet led churches in recent times.

Walter Magaya commands a huge following and he has been, together with Emmanuel Makandiwa, ‘the prophets’ commanding multitudes of followers in Zimbabwe.

Naturally, there has been a flurry of theories vis­à ­vis the arrest, with one group already having tried, convicted, sentenced and condemned him as an abuser of women while the other insists the man is a victim of extortion and political intrusion.

Lately, a number of cases have been cited people trying to extort money from him by fabricating allegations involving women.

Magaya himself has alleged that there are some corrupt politicians out to get him. This cannot be downplayed or dismissed since anything is possible in politics.

Now, an interesting phenomenon with a readable pattern, however, over the years in Zimbabwe, has been the disturbing similarity in cases where religious men caught on the wrong side of the law are quick to cite political interference in their arrests.

This must be well understood; it is not to say religious people try to hide behind political victimisation but it is to try and scrutinize this observable fact.

Why would politicians be interested in the down­fall of religious leaders especially when they are known to grace most services by these prosperity preachers? Why do politicians fight these clerics when they should create harmony which is good for them? In the case of Magaya, most prominent ruling party politicians are known to frequent his church.

Each time he embarks on various schemes, including the housing scheme he launched recently, even one of the vice presidents attended.

It therefore raises a stink how and why his very followers in the form of politicians would want him crucified.

The relationship between clergymen, rape and political opponents is therefore a curious one.

Probably, the freshest case in memory would be that of convicted cleric, Robert Martin Gumbura, serving a lengthy prison term at Chikurubi Maximum prison for the rape of women congregants.

His trial and subsequent conviction captured the nation as different allegations of rape rained on him. It is interesting to note that, in his defence, Gumbura cited that, “My church is a victim of politics. I am a target of bad politics.”

The theory that Gumbura was incarcerated as a result of political relations gone sour is a highly believed theory in some sections of society.

Some people remain convinced and exonerate the cleric despite the overwhelming evidence that was presented in court for those who truly followed proceedings in the case.

Gumbura, nonetheless, would not be the only prominent case where a religious figure cited political persecution.

The very recent case of Munyaradzi Kereke, former Zanu PF MP, is yet another example of someone who claimed strong religious affiliation blaming crime on his political opponents. It was a case of ‘my political enemies are out for me.’

Another well-known case is that of Madzibaba Nzira of the white garment apostolic sects who also claimed his lengthy incarceration had to do with people who hated his political affiliation.

The list is by no means exhaustive but one will surely find scores of religious leaders casting blame on the politics of the day for their sins or crimes.

Whether this is coincidence or not stands to reason. In the recent case of Magaya, it would be unfair to condemn him as some have done.

However, his edginess and the manner in which he is trying to exonerate himself betrays a person with something to hide.

That he had, on the night of his arrest, made claims that some opponents are out to frame him indicate a person trying to pre-empt something.

Indeed, Magaya is behaving like a person who will not have his say in court. He has been trying to convince all and sundry that he is not guilty, even grilling alleged plotters in church.

When all is said and done, it is important that people, the media included, remain objective and let the court to do its job.

If indeed Magaya is the unfortunate victim of political machinations, then surely this will be exposed in a court of law.

If indeed he has abused women as alleged by the State, no amount of religious drama will save him