Economists, politicians, clergy and many ordinary Zimbabweans have criticized a popular Zimbabwean prophet, who told worshippers at his weekend "Judgement Night 2" service that the country will soon see better days, and all because of prayer.
A huge crowd estimated to be over 160,000 participated in the all-night service, organized by preacher Emmanuel Makandiwa of the United Family International Church at Harare's National Sports Center Sunday night.
Makandiwa prophesied that Zimbabwe was on the verge of a major economic and industrial boom that will bring back the good times and people will be able to move around the city and go shopping "even during the night."
But many economists and politicians, including Erich Bloch, Job Sikhala and Shadow Economic Minister Tapiwa Mashakada, are reported to have weighed in immediately, saying what Zimbabwe needs is a change in government policy and foreign investment.
The Reverend Dr Roy Musasiwa at Domboshawa Theological College in Harare, explained that the idea of prophecy is not being practiced correctly by modern preachers, because biblical prophecy addresses the causes of the problems people are facing.
"If we examine the very meaning of prophecy as exercised by the Old Testament prophets like Amos, what they were judging were systems that caused the problems to manifest in the first place. They were prophesying against injustice, against greed and against the sinfulness of the nation," Reverend Musasiwa said.
He added: "I am very concerned about giving people hope which is not based on industriousness, which is not based on hard work, but which is based on an expectation that things can just happen supernaturally."
The Reverend explained that when God gave us the Garden of Eden, he said we must work on it, till it and take care of it in order to eat. This means we need to work to produce for our survival and not just expect miracles to save us.
Judgment Night 2 was attended by many top government officials, including the Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, Minister of State for Mashonaland West Ferber Chidarikire and his Midlands counterpart Jason Machaya.
Writing on the social network site twitter, one Zimbabwean said: "Our hope is being delivered by prophets while we listen to the silence of our leaders".
Zimbabweans will remember how government ministers were duped by a so-called prophet into believing that diesel had been found in rocks in the Chinhoyi area. Some of the same officials who attended Makandiwa's service fell for this embarrassing "prophecy" and visited the area out of greed, hoping to make a fortune. Off course no such rocks were found.
Makandiwa also reportedly launched a "miracle-working anointing oil" that he said would "bring glory" and "deal with all economic problems bedeviling the society".
According to the Daily News, he then personally collected money for the Sunday offering while issuing a disclaimer against the "popular belief that church leaders were fleecing ordinary people". The preacher claimed "God had told him that there was nothing wrong and that he should go ahead and collect," the paper said.