reprinted with corrections from The Mail

The Zion Christian Church (ZCC) Mbungu shrine situated in Masvingo has been certified as a religious tourism shrine by Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Engineer Walter Mzembi.

Speaking at the event, Minister Mzembi said the shrine is held in high esteem. “The tourism sector improves through cultural elements which is an important component of economic and social activities. The first Religious Tourism World Congress that was held in October 2006 estimated that the market is worth US$18 billion annually. An estimated 300-350 million tourists visit places for religious reasons.

“We have inexhaustible religious tourist resources and the shrine adds another dimension to the tourism sector. All this sprung from our faith which does not contradict with our faith and culture,” Mzembi said. 

He commended ZCC Bishop Mutendi for leading the Church and coming up with the idea he equated to Mecca and St. Peter’s Brasilica. “The Mbungu shrine is reminiscent of Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Italy’s St. Peter’s Brasilica and it is going to be a reference centre for pilgrimage in Sub-Saharan Africa for all people seeking spiritual meaning in lives. It is also going to synergize spiritual significance and business. Mbungu as a religious tourism shrine is an additional feature on Masvingo’s tourist attractions such as Lake Mutirikwi; Great Zimbabwe and other wildlife conservancies.” 

He also said the shrine will reinforce pilgrimage that happens annually even at the Hohani Marange Apostolic sect. “Locally, we have the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect that attracts huge numbers on annual meetings in Manicaland. They attract people from other countries and we look forward to ZCC growing in other countries,” explained Minister of Tourism and Hospitality. 

He also said the Tourism Ministry and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority will work hand-in-hand and market the site to attract functions that benefit the church and the local community. He donated a giant public viewing area screen at the shrine for people to see proceedings of the church and conferences.