reprinted from The Standard

Six years ago, travellers along the Mutare-Masvingo highway could not miss the big “ZCC” letters implanted on a hilltop, just 50km east of Masvingo city. The letters, made up of huge stones coated with white paint, were a bold sign for travellers that they were passing through the famous Mbungo Estates, the spiritual home of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC).

But now the unmistakable letters have been eclipsed by a green and white majestic conference centre with a capacity to accommodate over 15,000 people that is now the main spectacle in rural backwater, Bikita.

So imposing is the church complex that it’s a game changer for the faithful, sending a message to outsiders that ZCC, whose roots can be traced back to 1913, remains vibrant in the face of sprouting Pentecostal churches led by young charismatic preachers.

A team from The Standard that visited Mbungo several weeks ago was amazed by the transformation of the once dull headquarters of the ZCC into modern church headquarters, replete with a guest house, offices, library and a communications centre.

The big church complex constructed at an estimated 2 million USD, is a sign of the rapidly changing fortunes of what used to be a dusty compound dotted with small huts that housed the church faithful in the early 90s.

At the beginning of August, Mbungo was brimming with young and old people, some in designer suits, and others with crude home-made sandals.
They were the first to turn up for the annual ZCC pilgrimage that has been held at Defe for the past 34 years to commemorate the death of founder member, Bishop Samuel Mutendi.

This year, the pilgrimage was moved to Mbungo for the consecration of the new conference centre.

While it was impossible for The Standard to meet ZCC leader Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi who was locked up in a dare (church meeting), officials described developments at Mbungo as exciting.

Sanctions Mutendi, who is the headmaster at Mutendi High School and an advisor to the Bishop, said it took them five years to construct their multi-purpose centre.

ZCC has branches in Botswana, Lesotho, UK, America and SA, among other countries.