College of Humanities

Doctoral Research Casts Doubt on Bona Fides of Some Religious Movements in Zimbabwe

The activities of some new religious movements (NRMs) in Zimbabwe tend to benefit pastors, their families and a few elites and often involve allegations of ‘believers being defrauded’.

This was among findings of research by Dr Francis Marimbe who graduated from UKZN with a PhD in Development Studies for his investigations in Harare among believers of the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries, Grace Oasis Ministries (GOM) and Emmaus Encounter (EE).

‘NRMs have a complex and contested relationship regarding sustainable and transformational development with individual entrepreneurial activities inspired by the gospel of prosperity providing believers with increased income and access to basic goods.

‘Believers are able to meet some of their everyday needs without necessarily transforming their lives,’ said Marimbe.

The study concludes that there is a distinct difference between the teaching of the gospel of prosperity (hard work, entrepreneurship, saving and a good life) and its practise (loss of money through fraud and theft by pastors) within NRMs in Zimbabwe. According to Marimbe, ‘sustainable and transformational development cannot be achieved within NRMs because the practices of the pastors and prophets are often predatory.’

Marimbe is grateful to his support system of family, friends and supervisors Professor Shauna Mottiar and Professor Philippe Denis.

Asked about his future plans, Marimbe said: ‘I will continue building my company, the Development and Research Institute for Southern Africa (DRISA) Consulting Services which offers Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) and Transformation Consulting services. I also plan to continue providing Project Management training, research, and organisational development services to NPOs, NGOs, and assist many other organisations to implement socio-economic development initiatives which promote sustainable and transformational changes in South Africa and beyond.’