By Laiton Mkandawire
Without even stating whether Temitope Balogun Joshua, aka TB Joshua, the world-famous Nigerian prophet, is using the power of God or not, it is clear that he has touched the lives of many. Some in a positive way, some in a negative way, as it should be.
Zimbabwe’s fascination with this man, particularly after his prophecy on February 8, 2012 that an African president would die suddenly within 60 days, has been driven by politicians for their own political ends. Most politicians, across the political divide, hoped that the prophecy would be fulfilled in Zimbabwe.
For Zanu PF politicians, it would have shortened the waiting for those lining up to succeed their party leader and State President, Robert Mugabe. For the MDCs, a formidable and experienced opponent would be out of the way, opening up a clear chance to resoundingly outpoll a novice candidate in an open national election.
It never came to be as Malawi is the country that lost its president over the timeframe predicted by TB Joshua.
Unsatisfied with this outcome, some Zanu PF politicians, particularly the loquacious Professor Jonathan Moyo, came up with conspiracy theories suggesting that the late Bingu wa Mutharika could have been a victim of an assassination plot by his political opponents, taking advantage of TB Joshua’s prophecy.
He even intoned that TB Joshua had foreknowledge of the plot to kill wa Mutharika. Malawians poured scorn on this theory and cautioned Moyo against academic delinquency. Some Malawians even challenged him to prove the efficacy of his averments.
The Malawians, however, missed the whole point of Moyo’s untempered mutterings. They were not really meant for them and, consequently, the fears that they would destabilise Malawi were, fortunately, misplaced. The theories were meant for a Zimbabwean audience, with Malawi being a thin veil.
A few days later, the media was awash with “news” that Mugabe was on his deathbed in Singapore. An unnamed close associate of Mugabe’s was cited as the source of the story. Perceptive Zimbabwean media consumers read between the lines and noted who the originator of this fiction could be.
As is turned out, the President was well and alive, shaming the vile schemers.
Fearing Mugabe’s backlash upon his return, the Zanu PF schemers who wished Mugabe a sudden death, found TB Joshua, their initial source of hope, a convenient scapegoat, blaming him for making political prophecies.
While Mugabe himself laughed the episode off, joking that he has outdone Jesus in the number of supposed resurrections, the political schemers, to mask their involvement in the scandal, got angry on his behalf, declaring TB Joshua persona non grata in Zimbabwe.
Their fear that he might expose them when he comes to Zimbabwe for the National Day of Prayer event later this month is palpable. But is the President fooled by such Zanu PF insider schemers, plotting his downfall? Let’s wait and see. He might surprise them, yet.
For the MDCs, if laxity crept in on the basis of the news of Mugabe’s said illness, Mugabe’s “resurrection” and triumphant return to Zimbabwe from his private visit to the Far East, was a slap in the face. They fell for a Zanu PF succession battle schemer’s story. They also became embroiled in the TB Joshua decoy.
Instead of ignoring the rumour that it was Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who invited TB Joshua to Zimbabwe, the MDC-T dignified the fiction by denying it and placing the invitation at the door of the clergy.
Unwittingly, political clergymen like the excommunicated Anglican’s Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and his ilk, picked up the planted story and unjustly attacked TB Joshua, camouflaging the political schemer behind the story that Mugabe was on his deathbed. The police have entered the fray, throwing unprovoked attacks at TB Joshua.
But is it TB Joshua, godly or not, who is at the heart of Zimbabwe’s shameless peddling of lies about its President’s ill-health? Definitely not! It was in the WikiLeaks cables well before TB Joshua predicted the death of an African president. In fact, TB Joshua has not said a word about our President’s health as some politicians would have us believe.
To me and many others, it’s not the messenger, but the message, that matters. The forthrightness of prophetic messages scares our politicians to the extent of dreaming schemes against the prophets and decoding skewed meanings from the prophecies.
“Repent, reform and prepare for a new dawn, for the end is nigh,” has always been a religious message. There is no regime-change mantra in that message, as some politicians would like us to believe.
That message is as old as the biblical Old Testament prophets. And the reaction from politicians then, as now, is to scheme against the prophets. A large section of Prophet Jeremiah’s book in the Bible’s Old Testament section laments about this.
Spare TB Joshua the political controversies. Prophets, as a general rule of thumb, are responsible for what they say, not for what you interpret to be their message. Watch out more for deranged political schemers in our midst than mere prophets.
Laiton Mkandawire can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org