By Gibson Mhaka
A reverend with Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) in Sizinda, Bulawayo reportedly sparked outrage among his congregants when one of the worshippers stopped going to church amid allegations that she was “expelled” for not financially contributing towards church activities, a move suspected to be detrimental to the church.
Reverend Jaredi Mwale was stung by controversy at the instigation of his wife Debra who is alleged to have ordered Tambudzai Banda who was part of the church’s finance committee not to come to church as punishment for failing to contribute R200 and US$10 towards a Women’s Conference which was recently held in Malawi.
This was despite the fact that Banda had initially indicated to Rev Mwale’s wife that she was not going to be part of the conference since she had failed to raise the money in question.
Among a litany of allegations levelled against Banda who was banished from attending the church she has been faithfully part of for over 50 years, was that she was not tithing and paying offerings regularly.
Banda stopped going to church two weeks ago after her failure to meet the reverend’s wife’s demands.
The clergyman and his wife are also accused of using abusive remarks against congregants who are not regularly reaching into their pockets to “feed” them.
According to a source from the church, the couple’s wild actions were now leading congregants to question their authenticity as church leaders.
“For (Tambudzai) Banda it was like the last insult in the world, the day she was stopped from coming to church that she loved and worshipped at all of her life, even as a little girl.
“This was after the reverend’s wife read her the riot act that all those who didn’t contribute R200 and US$10 towards a women’s conference which was recently hosted in Malawi should stop coming to church.
“Although she was not the only one who had failed to raise the money in question, Banda who seems to have issues with the reverend and his wife was stopped from attending church services and a women’s conference which started on 21 August and ends on 24 August.
“The reverend is also using abusive remarks against congregants especially those who are not regularly tithing and paying offerings. If one goes for about three to four months without paying tithes he or she is no longer considered a member,” the source said.
The source said Banda, who felt she had been blatantly disrespected and shamelessly dismissed by the church still could not believe that money was all the church seemed to care about.
“After every service the wife demands that congregants pay US$2 as a token of appreciation that they had received a word. She is also harassing female congregants on their WhatsApp group demanding expensive grocery items and that on the occasion of the initiation, women who want to be assisted to put on their uniforms for the first time should pay US$10. Her husband always brags that there was nothing that people could do to them,” added the source.
Meanwhile, congregants are reportedly planning to organise protests in order to put pressure on Rev Mwale to change his mind or leave the branch before his term expires in 2022.
“A church is not like a mafia group that offers your soul immortal protection in exchange for hard cash. While it is a common practice for people to offer 10 percent of their incomes to a church, it is not meant to be a requirement that determines whether or not somebody should be allowed to attend. It seems the pastor’s wife is becoming too big for her shoes as it is not her duty to bar people from coming to church as punishment for not meeting her demands.
“The reverend is also getting grants from outside the country and as a church we don’t know how the money is being used,” a disgruntled congregant who refused to be named lashed out.
An elder of the church who also requested anonymity confirmed the incident saying the church was now divided because of the conduct of the reverend and his wife.
“It is true that she (Tambudzai Banda) is no longer coming to the church after she failed to meet the reverend’s wife’s demands. This was after she declared that those who didn’t meet her demands of raising R200 and US$10 towards a conference which was recently hosted in Malawi should not come to church.
“In other words she was automatically expelled because she didn’t meet the reverend’s wife’s demands. She is, however, not the only one who failed to raise the money and we are surprised why she was a target. As church elders we are going to meet after the women’s conference which is currently underway and get to the bottom of the matter,” the church elder said.
When reached for comment Banda said she was not at liberty to speak to the Press before she requested all questions to be referred to Rev Mwale and his wife.
Rev Mwale, however, dismissed all the allegations levelled against him.
“I don’t know all those allegations being levelled against me. I don’t handle church matters. There is a body which sits and deliberates on all church issues and I am very sorry if you believe in those lies,” he said.
His wife also professed ignorance of the allegations saying as a church if there was anything wrong there was protocol congregants should follow rather than going to the Press. B-Metro