Ecumenical Support Services Zimbabwe director Johah Gokova says there is a serious leadership crisis within the Church in Zimbabwe, as religious leaders have largely remained quite in the face of socio-economic and political problems facing the country.

Contributing to debate during a recent discussion on the role of the Church in Zimbabwe, Gokova said Churches need to promote justice and peace and ask why there is a lot of violence and killings in the country. He said it is difficult to find church leaders who speak out loudly, save for excommunicated Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, whom he described as being vocal for the wrong reasons. Kunonga,  who is in a bitter legal battle with the Anglican Church’s Province of Central Africa over church properties, is a vocal supporter of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF and purports to be on an anti-homosexuality crusade within the Church of England.

Gokova said the silence of Church leaders is deliberate, as most of them wait for opportunities to be co-opted into either Zanu-PF or MDC, where they can get personal material gains such as farms. “When the Church leaders remain quite, it is the nation which suffers. We need more Church leaders to critically engage political authorities. We are still waiting for critical thinkers in the Churches who do not just play the prophetic role but help promote justice and peace.”

Journalist, author and a Zimbabwe Christian Alliance board member, Pious Wakatama alleged that some of the Churches that mushroomed lately have nothing to do with the Bible, as they are mostly interested in the money aspect. “They will tell you that put money in my Church – and the cash will double or triple. They put huge billboards, which literally convey the message that put money in my plate and you become rich.”

Wakatama said, although it would be unwise for politicians to ignore the Church, it would equally be “stupid” to embrace the likes of Kunonga as the ex-communicated bishop was too tainted. He said Christian Alliance is committed to fight for justice and human rights.

Wakatama also said religious leaders such as prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa are becoming more and more popular because of the healing aspect they are offering. He said more Zimbabweans are finding it difficult to afford health services, hence they are resorting to spiritual healing.