reprinted with minor corrections from Nehanda Radio

by Jennifer Dube

United Family International Church (UFIC) leader, Emmanuel Makandiwa, on Friday night restricted his sermon at the highly publicised Judgment Night at the National Sports Stadium to spiritual matters, contrary to expectations that he would predict a perilous future for the country.

Ahead of the day, there was widespread speculation that Makandiwa, like TB Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, who predicted the death of Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, would foretell a near doomsday scenario for Zimbabwe in the days to come.

Makandiwa set tongues wagging when it was revealed his followers’ enemies would be destroyed on “the day of the Judgement.” In what may have been aimed at people who were speculating about his statements, Makandiwa said: “It is difficult to prophesy Zimbabweans. They misinterpret the prophecy. If you cannot interpret prophecy, do other things. There are many other things one can do.”

However, the only time Makandiwa mentioned politicians directly was in his greetings when he acknowledged the presence of leaders from “the political sector.” Among those present, were Media, Information and Publicity Minister, Webster Shamu, Zanu-PF central committee member, Nyasha Chikwinya, Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi and Shurugwi South MP, Anastasia Ndlovu.

Businessman Philip Chiyangwa was also among the congregants. Makandiwa’s preaching was based on three Bible readings — Exodus 12 and 2 Kings 23 verses 21-24, which talk about the Passover, and 1 Peter 1 verses 9-12 which focuses on salvation. He also preached about prosperity and healing, among other things.

Clad in a light grey suit, a black shirt, cream waistcoat and tie, Makandiwa walked into the stadium a few minutes before 11 pm to be greeted with a standing ovation and thunderous cheers. A few minutes into his preaching, Makandiwa called out the name of a young boy who was sitting at one of the bays with his parents. He prophesied about the boy and his family, telling them his mother’s mobile number and his sister’s name without asking for clues.

This was the first of the many prophecies he made, including one where he called for the attention of a woman called Christine from the crowd. Several women ran to the altar before he told them he was smelling paraffin and was wondering if the person he wanted worked at a filling station, although he was not “seeing” petrol. Another woman emerged from the crowd and told him her name was Christine Paraffin.

Makandiwa called many people from the crowd by their names and would make them confirm they had never met him before. Thereafter he would describe the way leading to their homes and giving descriptions of property in their houses. He would then make his prophecies.

He told one woman to be alert at 3:09 am on Thursday, as thieves would break into her house. He said if they managed to steal anything, he would give her their names and the serial numbers of all stolen property. One man was told the type of car he drives and its number plates before being advised to sell it and buy another as he risked an accident if he continued using it. The man was given the address to a building project he is working on and directions to the stand. Together with his spiritual friend, Uebert Angel, Makandiwa walked around the stadium laying his hands on people who were desperate for his touch.

Winding up his sermon just before 6 am, Makandiwa reiterated that all evil which was afflicting some of the attendees had been destroyed, but only if they believed in Jesus. “We are not saying your enemies must die,” he voiced. “But they must repent. Why should the person who is bewitching you live? They must die, and this is biblical.”

Makandiwa said the event was a different type of football that had never been played at the stadium. As if to agree with him, some people blew vuvuzelas throughout the night, and when there was sound loss during a Mahendere performance, the whole stadium was thrown into wild shouts of disapproval, typical of soccer fans.

Tight security which included UFIC personnel and police ensured there was no chaos. People started arriving at the 60,000-seater stadium as early as 8 am although the advertisements were clear the event would start in the evening. Commuter omnibuses recorded good business, ferrying people to the stadium throughout the day.

Some people walked from nearby suburbs such as Warren Park, Westlea, Kambuzuma, Kuwadzana and Meyrick Park. By 8 pm on Friday, most bays were already full and security personnel were at loss as to how to accommodate the rest of the crowd. Even the chairs arranged in the playground for VVIPs and VIPs were all occupied.

The purple outfit of Makandiwa’s wife  turned many heads. The curious crowd joined the UFIC praise team in song and dance well before 8 pm. Also present were pastors from the Southern African  region, including three from Angola, who said they were seeking Makandiwa’s anointing so they could be able to heal their fellow citizens dying of curable diseases.

More excited was the crowd when Shamu joined Mahendere Brothers on stage and belted out ther song they had practiced for the night. The crowd seemed to enjoy Shamu’s energetic dancing, which some youths said reminded them of the group, The Coopl Crooners, complete with a matching white suit.

Shamu however drew laughter from the crowd when, instead of lifting an open palm when saying ‘Praise Jesus!’ in greeting the crowd per usual church practice, he put up a fist before realising his mistake and changing to a palm.