By Michael Gwarisa
PROPHETS and churches are now mandated to obtain licences to carry out deliverance and healing sessions, or administer any healing ointments or herbs to their followers, a top government official has said.
The move is aimed at curbing extremism and healing malpractices obtaining in modern day churches and religious groupings which have resulted in many innocent souls losing their lives or falling victim to extreme health conditions.
Briefing Journalists this afternoon(16/08/2017), Health and Child Care Deputy Ministry Hon Aldrin Musiiwa said it was now illegal for religious leaders to conduct healing sessions without getting clearance from government.
“All religious groups, churches, prophets,pastors and individuals must now be registered so that there is cross referencing of their work because as ministry, our role is to look at the health of the people so those that minister to the health of the people must be known to be registered.
“Churches are registered as Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), their registration for purposes of prayer has nothing to do with the ministry of health, what we are concerned about is when they start dabbling in healing sessions. So the churches then require a separate certificate for their healing sessions. The law is very clear on that, if one persists and gives one even an olive branch as a gesture of healing, and they are not registered, i have no option but to prosecute them because they have become a problem to the nation.
“So we are saying fine, if you then want to do healing sessions, then let those specific pastors whom you think have the gift of healing within your churches be registered so that we may be able to monitor or probably assist their work, that’s all we are saying,” said Hon Musiiwa.
He added that the law of Zimbabwe does not allow one to conduct healing sessions in the absence of registration or licensing.
“I have spoken to churches to make them understand the law, we are saying what we are doing if it is right and bonafide, all that is required is an endorsement from your church to get a license. I don’t see any problem of transparency if what you are going to do is right.
“Even for prophets to tell followers to discontinue taking Anti Retro-Viral Drugs (ARVs) is a serious criminal offence. No one has a right to tell anyone to stop taking ARVs if they are not the ones who tested them in the first place.”
Zimbabwe has of late seen the proliferation of modern charismatic churches and charismatic church leaders who claim to have super sonic healing powers over ailments of any form including the deadly HIV.
Meanwhile, TEHILLA Founding President Reverend Sam Malunga there are issues relating to health that are beyond the spiritual and churches must respect the law and give health experts room to do their work without interference from extreme beliefs.
“It is important to be transparent as far as the healing element is concerned. Lets say more than 20 000 people come to you and its all healing issues. This is where the aspect f accountability comes into play because of the crowd and the people who are flocking to you for healing purposes.
“So when government puts its feet on the ground like this, its a historic development and a turning point in the history of our nation. Already in Southern Africa, some countries have ruled out careless activities relating to religion. Extremism is taking place now and government is saying to churches, lets work together so that we avoid misleading people,” said Malunga.
Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe national chairman, Sheikh Ishmail A. Duwa welcomed the move by government to introduce licensing for faith healers and churches saying it will go long way in restoring order in the society.