Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Hopewell Chin’ono: Walter Magaya’s irresponsible HIV/Aids cure claims are reckless and criminal

By Hopewell Chin’ono

I have two friends who are both medical doctors. One is a Facebook connection and the other is a personal friend.  The personal friend goes to Walter Magaya’s church and is a staunch believer.

Prophetic healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Walter Magaya speaks at the launch of Aguma which he claims it cures HIV and Aids
Prophetic healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Walter Magaya speaks at the launch of Aguma which he claims it cures HIV and Aids (Picture by NewsDay)

Here is what she had to say about Walter Magaya’s HIV cure claims:

“Hello Hopewell

As you may know, I have always defended Prophet Magaya. This time I can agree that he has crossed the line and that was very irresponsible of him as a Church leader. I’m not standing with him this time.”

The second doctor said this: 

“Kumedicine (In medicine) we rely on EVIDENCE not mbiri ye kuti uri ani (not fame) or whatever.
What form of study did he do, how was patient selection done (randomisation etc), what was the period of the clinical trials, were the patients already on (Anti-retroviral medication (ARVs) and if so, what was their contribution to the “healing”…how was that factored in?

What was the starting CD4 count and viral load, what was the viral strain involved in the test subjects, the presence of other opportunistic infections at the time?

That’s the discussion we should be having and the specifics he needs to publish in a REPUTABLE medical/scientific journal, not ngano dzekuti (not stories saying) because so and so said it, so it has to be true.”

We have all seen the embarrassing defenses by people who go to Walter Magaya’s Church in regards to the claims he made saying that he had found a cure for HIV and Aids. 

These feeble arguments confirm my assertion that we need to protect our people from self-harm without infringing on their freedoms.

It can’t be a good freedom for someone to commit suicide when we can help him or her not to do so!

This type of ignorance is breathtakingly high because our people lack critical thinking skills, they go with the wind and do not ask the Why, When, Where, Who, What and How.

To my media colleagues, I urge the same, critical thinking should be central to how we do our work and not just report. PLEASE!

The 5 Ws and an H are part of what we are taught in every journalism school across the world.

The Herald for example simply regurgitated Walter Magaya’s claims without nuance, input from medical professionals, and any critical analysis or even asking Walter Magaya and meaningful and probing questions.

This is an irresponsible type of journalism because it puts our people in harms way, some people believe that when it is in a newspaper, it must be true.

We have a lot of congregants that have been robbed by these crooked prophets, every family has a story to tell.

They are literate but they don’t think, that is the best and simple way to explain this foolishness that scaffolds these charlatan pastors.

As you already know, I have made a documentary film on HIV & Aids with Professor Chiratidzo Ndhlovu who is one of the leading fundis on this subject.

Making the film forced me to read a lot more than I would have done when researching for a film project.

I encourage our people including the believers to do the same, read a lot more to understand issues especially medical issues.

Be high on knowledge and not just faith, it is important not to become another statistic of this crooked business which underpins its relevance with the hold bible.

God gave us medicine as a gift to be used, God knew that with faith, we also needed physical healing.

We have Zimbabweans that you can lean on if you need to understand these issues, especially my colleagues in the news industry, let us rely on science where need be.

One such person who is a leading HIV and Aids expert is the University of Oxford and Harvard trained Dr Tariro Kadzirange

She has done a lot of work on HIV and Aids and is a leading light on this issue, newspapers should be throwing questions to such experts before the publish lies couched in religious gowns.

We must have the appetite to read what these folks have published and not just yelp Walter Magaya’s nonsense.

I have just finished making a documentary film on mental illness with Professor Dixon Chibanda, in it you will see a family that took their relative to Walter Magaya paying US$2 to US$300 a week for a so called one on one healing & miracle session.

This is a very poor family that is surviving from hand to mouth and yet because there is NO statutory protection against criminals like Walter Magaya, they got fleeced.

They represent thousands of families who have fallen victim to criminals like Walter Magaya, those ignorant followers amongst us perpetuate this madness by giving false information and made up testimonies to compatriots.

The family in my film brought their relative to the hospital as a last resort and desperate measure after they ran out of money only for her to recover from the condition after being given western medication.

We are not saying that there is no faith based healing, it is there and it is mostly psychological and it doesn’t cure HIV and Aids or cancer as claimed.

There are many Zimbabweans who defend these silly claims, you will find them here, they are so brainwashed such that they have NO veneer of embarrassment when defending this tripe, this nonsense, and this charlatanry.

They will intimidate, verbally abuse and even threaten violence to instill the fear of God to anyone who asks reasonable questions.

Walter Magaya is NO miracle worker, if he was one he would have gone into hospitals where people are dying and he would heal them back to good health.

Unfortunately the political elites will not help the citizenry in this regard, they also use and get used by people like Walter Magaya.

Walter Magaya lived in Ignatius Chombo’s former home in Mt Pleasant when Chombo was Home Affairs minister and Local government minister.

How then would you expect the political elites to protect the poor, vulnerable and desperate when their business and social relationships are intertwined and conflated with their dealings with these prophets?

These prophets flaunt these political links to instil a sense of helplessness to anyone who attempts to take them on.

We have to expose these crooks wearing religious garments unless we want our people to die in which case we should take full responsibility for having watched and done nothing!

I have met many people who have stopped taking their medication on the basis that the prophets told them that they had healed only for them to relapse and die.

I have a friend who is a lawyer who has files of testimonies of young women who were sexually abused by Walter Magaya, they were paid off and they kept quiet!

Such is the level of crookedness we are dealing with and yet we will still have compatriots who in a slavish and uncritical way still call such people “Man of God.”

I produced a documentary film on religion for eNCA that included Walter Magaya, I saw national newspaper editors coming to his office to receive brown envelopes at his Waterfalls offices.

Such is the level of rot that we are dealing with, they have captured many levers of the state and including many levers of the state and media. People like Walter Magaya need the book thrown at them for making such irresponsible statements as he made yesterday.

Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.

He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa leadership Institute.

Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind, which was launched to critical acclaim. Eleven years ago he made the multi-award winning Pain my Heart, a documentary film looking at HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe.

You can watch it here:

State of Mind has been nominated for a top award in Kenya and Trinidad. You can watch the documentary trailer below. Hopewell can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @daddyhope