By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
United Family International Church (UFIC) founder Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa has urged his followers to get vaccinated, while making a u-turn from his widely criticised claim that the Covid-19 vaccine was the ‘Mark of the Beast’.
Addressing his followers on a live broadcast Sunday, Makandiwa dismissed claims he made earlier this year that the Covid-19 vaccine was a “mark of the beast” and that there was a chip in the jab.
“There is no chip in the vaccine. There is no mark in the vaccine. Christians are afraid, fearing for their lives and trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from receiving the mark of the beast by receiving the vaccine. This is Covid-19 vaccine, not the mark of the beast.”
“How many times did I say don’t rush, don’t be the first, let them have it first. If I am saying don’t be the first, I am saying be the last or second. Why should you be the first when it’s not your creation?” he said.
Observers have welcomed Makandiwa’s sudden u-turn adding that he should have done it earlier to save people’s lives.
UK based law expert Dr Alex Magaisa said he was relieved by Makandiwa’s endorsement of the vaccine adding however, the cleric should have done the right thing earlier before many people died.
“I was quite frankly relieved to hear that a popular religious leader known to the multitude of followers as Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa has made a positive statement concerning vaccinations (the pun is unintended). Of course, an earlier intervention would have been better given the calamity the nation is facing,” Dr Magaisa said.
He quoted an Afrobarometer research that established that 78% of people believe in religious leaders more than they do politicians.
“Afrobarometer told us 78% of Zimbabweans trust religious leaders while just 48% trust the President. made this point a few weeks ago that if people trust religious leaders that much, their word would go a long way to encourage people to take the path of vaccinations. His followers trust him, so his word will go a long way in the battle against the pandemic.
“Those of us who called out earlier statements that may have confused and misled the public do not derive any comfort from saying we told you so because it helps no-one. What is important is that followers who may have been unsure will hopefully take their leader’s new word,” he said.
On Saturday, Magaisa wrote in his Big Saturday Read about what he called the “fallacy of sunk costs” where he explained instances when “one insists on a course of action even when it is no longer rational but does so just because he has invested in it.
“It’s good to see that the man of the cloth has avoided the weight of the sunk cost fallacy. There was no point to keep on digging because the hole would just get deeper. It was time to get out and that is a positive.”
“The fight against this pandemic requires responsible leadership from across all sectors of society – government, religion, opposition, traditional leaders, civil society leaders, intellectuals, the scientific community and icons in our arts, sports and popular culture sectors.”
Political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya said: “Emmanuel Makandiwa has done the right thing. That is leadership. Full Stop.”
But award winning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono castigated Makandiwa saying at first, the prophet had misled people with a “dubious” prophecy.
“What is clear is there was NEVER a prophecy, it was all dubious!
“Someone heard only vaccinated folks will be allowed to go to churches, and thought $$$,” he said.
As of Sunday night, the health ministry said at least 1,447,342 Zimbabweans have taken the first dose, while 680,060 are fully vaccinated. Nehanda Radio