The so-called men of God
Baffour's Beefs By Baffour Ankomah
If you cannot trust your pastor to pastor your wife for just a day, or if you allow me the pun for just a night, know that society is in deep, deep trouble. And that is what is sadly happening in the land that was once part of the mighty Munhumutapa Empire.
HOW do people who should act
as the moral conscience and barometer
of society abdicate their responsibility?
Where do I start from? Zimbabwe
is a land of Christians, or if we
want to be purists a land of churchgoers.
For there is a difference between
the two, and it is as far and
wide as from here to Masvingo,
the home of my in-laws, the land of
But whatever the level of their
Christianity, Zimbabweans know
that the third of God's Ten Commandments
enjoins them not to
"You shall not misuse the name
of the Lord your God, for the Lord
will not hold anyone guiltless who
misuses his name" is actually the
modern translation of what God
wrote on the tablets that Moses
broke in anger.
Therefore, if you see somebody
calling himself a pastor, bishop,
prophet (thank God we haven't got
a pope yet in Zimbabwe) doing
things that a pastor, bishop,
prophet or a "man of God" (that is
another good one) is not supposed
to do, you should worry greatly.
And that is my beef for this week
- the "men of God" in Zimbabwe
who are mocking God by taking
his name in vain and doing things
that men of God should never do.
So what are they doing? I will
tell you in a jiffy. But while you
wait, please mull over this: If you
cannot trust your pastor to pastor
your wife for just a day, or if you
allow me the pun for just a night,
know that society is in deep, deep
trouble. And that is what is sadly
happening in the land that was once
part of the mighty Munhumutapa
The wider society
To be fair to the pastors, I must
concede that their behaviour is only
a reflection, a tiny reflection, of a
dangerous subculture that has been
allowed to prosper in Zimbabwe
- a subculture which, if not
checked now with all the force at
the command of society - may
seriously spiral and choke life in
the generations to come.
Fortunately President Robert
Mugabe has been talking about it.
Sadly nobody seems to be listening.
Yet Zimbabwe will save itself a
lot of pain in the future if it finds
honour within itself to listen to the
concerned voice of the President.
In the second quarter of last year,
the President went to Mutare to
address a high-level meeting of the
national association of local councils
(or some such grouping), and in
the middle of his speech, he turned
away from his prepared text to talk
about how infidelity was becoming
a national security issue, in the
sense that it was leading to too many
family breakdowns, and once the
very fabric of society, the family, is
destabilised, the country will have
no legs to stand on again.
I watched the President's speech
live on ZBC, and I could tell the
The so-called men of God
enormity of his concern from his
body language. In fact, he went on
for a while that day expounding
the issue. Since then, the President
has spoken about the issue severally
at different places, including at
the wedding of the daughter of the
former central bank governor,
You can tell it is something that
greatly worries him. "Dai taiziva
zvemasmall houses taiti we will go
and destroy because they
shouldn't exist at all," the President
was reported to have said at
"What do you need a small
house for? What has happened to
your big house? Why do you want
to spend more time with a small
house and not a big house?
"Do your children know about
the small house?" Same everywhere
Before we are carried away,
let's get some context here.
The "small house" culture exists
everywhere in the world, and
we shouldn't make it look as if it is
uniquely Zimbabwean. It may be
called different names elsewhere
but it amounts to the same thing.
What makes it uniquely Zimbabwean
is the level and intensity
it has reached in this country, to
the point where the President and
thousands of his countrymen and
women are now alarmed by it.
Everywhere you turn in Zimbabwe,
men and women (particularly
married women), of all social
classes, are talking about it.
They say marriages are no longer
secure and wives cannot be at rest
Which, ironically, reminds me
of a notice that hangs in a friend's
office in Accra, Ghana. "God created
the earth, and rested.
"Then he created the animals, and
rested. Then he created man, and
rested. Then he created the woman,
and since then no one has rested!"
It is thus deeply ironic that in
today's Zimbabwe, it is the woman
who says she can no longer be at
rest. And the following is why.
Women's voices Last month,
my wife and I visited a family friend
in one of the leafy suburbs of
Harare, where three other couples
One of the newspaper headlines
that day concerned the general level
of immorality and infidelity in Zimbabwe,
and as you would expect,
the women naturally steered the
conversation in that direction.
I sat quietly and listened. Mercifully
they spoke in English. If you
have never been in my shoes, you
may not understand the use of
"mercifully", for in Zimbabwe
people tend to cut you out of the
conversation by resorting to Shona,
and Shona only, even if they know
that you understand not a damn
As a new mukwasha from
United Africa, I have come to accept
that it is the cross I have to
bear, and an impetus to learn Shona
At the end of the evening, the
consensus was this: (1) Moral values
have leaked so badly in Zimbabwe
to the point where, despite all
the Christianity in the country, the
seventh and tenth of God's Ten
Commandments, which say, "You
shall not commit adultery" and
"You shall not covet your
neighbour's wife" hold no attraction
(2) Married women of all classes
are groaning about the disrespect
that some "sisters" (both single and
married) show for other women's
marriages. "They will do anything
to break up your marriage and get
your man for themselves," said one
of the women.
(3) Some men have lost all decency
to the point where they pursue
women, and especially other
men's wives, "with the integrity of
a he-goat". That was strong language,
but the woman who employed
it insisted she would stand
by it till death.
A troubled society The concerned
voices in the room created
the scary impression of a society
where nothing is sacrosanct anymore.
"Where did the values of society
go?", one of the women asked.
"Surely, it wasn't like this when
we were growing up," she added
Another interjected: "These
days wearing a wedding ring is no
guarantee. Rings even appear to act
as a spur to some men to harass
"They see that you are married,
and yet they insist wanting to take
you to bed, sometimes by trying
to blackmail your husband, telling
you he is helping himself with other
women out there, so why not
"It's sheer madness, I tell you!
"What are we trying to prove in
this country?" The woman went
on a good bit that evening.
To a foreign ear like mine, it
sounded quite petrifying, and I got
the terrible feeling of a society sliding
down a dangerous slope.
When it reaches the level described
by the women, where nobody
appears to show any respect
for another man's wife or another
woman's husband - whether she
is a friend's wife or a brother's wife,
whether he is a sister's husband or
a friend's husband (in fact one
woman said it is common these
days for a blood sister to sleep with
a blood sister's husband), or
whether it is a neighbour's wife or
husband - that society is in deep
It is almost like what existed in
Israelite society in the days of
Prophet Micah (about 750-700
BC). Micah tells a harrowing tale
at chapter 7:2-6:
"The godly has perished from
the earth, and there is no one upright
among mankind; they all lie in
wait for blood; and each hunts the
other with a net. Their hands are
on what is evil, to do it well; the
prince and the judge ask for a bribe,
and the great man utters the evil
desire of his soul; they weave it
"The best of them is like a brier,
the most upright of them a thorn
hedge . . . Put no trust in a
neighbour; have no confidence in a
friend; guard the doors of your
mouth from her who lies in your
arms; for the son treats his father
with contempt, the daughter rises
up against her mother, the daughter-
in-law against her mother-inlaw;
a man's enemies are the men
of his own house."
It is frightening, isn't it? A man's
enemies are the men of his own
house, (and you can add, of his
own country or society).
And Micah is not finished:
"Guard the doors of your mouth
from her who lies in your arms",
he admonishes. Other translations
say "from the wife that lies in your bosom". And I say, if you can't
trust the wife who shares your
bed, who else can you trust?
But it shouldn't come to this,
dear Zimbabwe; where nobody
is at rest; where no one trusts anybody;
where wives are worried
stiff about their husbands and marriages;
where women and men
cannot live normally as social animals;
where a sideways glance is
taken as a suggestion to go to bed;
where values have leaked to a point
where sex becomes a be-all and
end-all, and it doesn't matter how
one gets it and from whom!
Past admonitions While researching
this article, I came across
a piece on The Herald website
written by Marshall Bwanya on
June 5 last year, in which he reported
that "several cases of men
and women cheating their spouses
across Zimbabwe have triggered
a blitz of divorce cases . . .
In some instances, spouses resort
to violence when they discover
that their partners have been
in a promiscuous relationship."
Marshall went on: "The local
media has been awash with stories
of a husband axing a wife's
lover, a man fatally stabbing a suspected
wife-snatcher, or a wife
scalding her husband over suspected
infidelity. The list is endless."
Three years before Marshall's
article, on October 11 2010 to be
precise, another article by Khesani
Matatise, reporting on "Marriage
no longer a haven against HIV",
had some very gloomy facts and
statistics on the situation in Zimbabwe.
"Many people have long held
the view that marriage is a place
of refuge against being infected
with HIV. But new research by
the National Aids Council (NAC)
is bound to make such people sit
up and think again," Khesani reported.
"According to the NAC research
unit, the majority of the
cases of 66 000 new HIV infections
recorded last year are from
Population Services International
(PSI) interpersonal communications
manager, Mrs Patience
Kunaka, said that research had also
revealed that of the total number
of people engaged in multiple concurrent
sexual partnerships, married
men had the highest share of
"Women involved with multiple
sexual partners contributed
5.1 percent; single women who
have passed marriageable age contributed
14.8 percent of having
multiple sexual partners, with
most of them having relationships
with married men.
"These figures translate into the
high prevalence of HIV infection
among married couples because
those in marriage rarely demand
the use of condoms," Mrs Kunaka
said, before adding the chilling
"There is need to allow scepticism
that your partner might be
having other sexual relationships."
That, for many people, is the
rub! "Allow scepticism …" Once
that point is reached, they say,
there is not much point in marriage
anymore? Then you ask
What precedent is the current
generation setting for the next generation, and even for posterity? A
society that cannot trust marriage?
That is going to produce future generations
Enter the men of God
It is a serious matter we are discussing
today, which becomes even more
serious when the one institution that
should be the moral conscience and
barometer of society - the church -
has, in my view, abdicated that responsibility
to its eternal shame!
For me, that is where Zimbabwe
has got it so, so wrong!
If, when it comes to sexual immorality,
the men who call themselves
"men of God" are behaving in the
same manner, sometimes even far
worse than ordinary men, it says
one thing: society is in a deep mess!
Therefore, for the so-called men
of God, especially those of Pentecostal
and Charismatic hues, who
are mocking God by their immoral
behaviour, preying on single and
married women like there is no tomorrow,
and making it difficult for
genuine men of God to be respected
and trusted, there is only one admonition
They should bow their heads in
shame for dishonouring their exalted
titles, and turning the word "pastor",
"prophet", and the like, into a term
Here, I should be careful not to
tar all men of God with the same
brush. Some are genuine and doing
God's work in truth and sincerity,
and should be thanked for helping
society to live right.
But there are others who don't
deserve to come near any church,
whether held under a tree or in a
classroom. They know themselves
and there is no need to mention their
names and churches here.
They are in Harare as they are in
Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo,
Gweru and everywhere across the
Some of them have already been
exposed by the media, others have
been jailed, and hundreds more are
hiding in the shadows of their pulpits
and homes, and are continuing
with their ungodly ways.
More importantly, we shouldn't
make the mistake that it is only the
"wacky" pastors in dirty garments
and dirty churches who are doing it.
Not at all. Those in expensive suits
and cars, with fashionable accents
to boot, are all up to their eyelids in
Imagine. Just imagine: A pastor
or a prophet sits on a VIP dais at a
church conference in Harare with
his wife, and yet, while another pastor
is preaching, makes amorous
passes at a woman sitting on the
Another pastor sneaks into the
home of a married woman and tells
her: "Marry anything, that will give
me a good cover to get you".
Yet another pastor tells a married
woman: "If baba goes to work or
goes away, I am the new baba".
And a church in Harare promotes
a deacon caught red-handed trying
to get into the skirt of a woman not
his wife, to a higher position!
And you ask yourself, what in hell
is going on?
Not surprisingly, the "men of
God" who have no fear of God in
them, still go about calling themselves
by the endearing title of pastor,
bishop, apostle, prophet, and
the like. Oh, God where are you?
Definitely not on holiday!