Zimbabweans have expressed shock after seeing the country's central bank governor, Gideon Gono, appearing to give credence to the so-called 'miracle money' prophets, Emmanuel Makandiwa and Eubert Angel, at a press conference in Harare on Tuesday.
Economist John Robertson told SW Radio Africa the Reserve Bank Governor missed the chance to caution the general public against the prosperity gospel prophets. Instead Gono appeared to confirm that 'miracle money' is a reality and his only concern was that such miracle money had to conform to the laws regarding currency. Money being miraculously materialized should come with a paper trail and proper serial numbers.
Social commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said the Gono press conference with this controversial pair is in the same league as the incident of the diesel n'anga, Rotina Mavhunga, who fooled ZANU PF ministers into believing that she could miraculously draw diesel from a rock.
Ngwenya said this shows "Zimbabwe is a land of 'jokers', where you have the head of the country's bank paying attention to such 'frivolous' beliefs.
The two self-styled prophets have been dominating the news and drawing thousands to their churches, claiming they can perform extraordinary miracles, promising wealth and a better life to their followers.
Some worshippers reportedly found cash in their wallets, pockets and bank accounts, while others claimed to have found diamonds and gold during the church service. Some said they experienced equally 'extraordinary miracles' like hair being extended, sudden loss of weight and new teeth.
After the meeting with Makandiwa and Angel at the Reserve Bank offices Gono said: "We, as the central bank, came in to give our views concerning their work. They belong to the spiritual realm, we are charged with ensuring that earthly laws are observed, implemented and monitored."
Previously the banker had described the prophets' claims as "very dangerous" and said they could be breaching international laws governing the printing of money. But in a complete u-turn Gono said he was now "sure that what the two men of God do is not in violation of any rules."
Gono said he could not prove that they had broken any laws, even though there was no explanation as to how the 'miracle money' is being deposited into individuals' bank accounts without following normal banking transactions or regulations.
Some observers have said that the central bank governor should be dealing with facts and not hobnobbing with these prophets, which undermines his credibility.
Robertson said Gono should never have allowed himself to be associated with this activity in any way at all. "The implications now are that many people are clever at defrauding other people and they are going to get away with it.
The prosperity gospel duo in-turn said their "miracles" were based on "restoration of what one would have lost" and "not on creation of money".
Ngwenya said there is a fine line between "religious freedom and religious insanity but then again Zimbabweans have a history of extreme behavior."
The commentator said it is possible that with ZANU PF in the middle of an election campaign it is looking at this huge block of potential voters from the Pentecostal movement, and wanted Gono to do a bit of 'damage control'.
"This to me is just one of those political jokes that is only meant to prove that ZANU PF accommodates these eccentric characters for the purposes of political capital."
Ngwenya believes this 'incites a sense of laziness in Zimbabweans that manna comes from heaven."
He pointed out that it is difficult to say how the prophets have committed a crime since none of the so called beneficiaries have gone to a bank and produced the money that has allegedly been materialized with the help of the prophets.