Several religious organisations representing churches in Zimbabwe met in Harare on Monday and appointed Zanu-PF Central Committee member Cde Jimayi Muduvuri as their patron, in a move they said was meant to bridge the gap between the church and the country's political leadership.
Some of the organisations include Apostolic Association Churches of Zimbabwe (AACZ), which is a grouping of apostolic churches, that dumped the AACZ led by Mr Johannes Ndanga and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Pastors Fraternity and Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (UDACIZA), which represents more than 400 sects were also among the organisations that endorsed Cde Muduvuri as patron of churches in Zimbabwe.
In a letter addressed to Cde Muduvuri on May 31, 2017, AACZ national chairman Bishop Tsungai Vushe said: "During our 2017 opening meeting, the AACZ leadership laid down the need for this Government-mandated association to have you as its national patron through which all our coordinated efforts, functions and events will be relayed to you prior establishment and deployment.
"As such, any required implements that you would need to promulgate the association's efforts would be granted for your seal of approval and regulation."
In his acceptance speech at a function in Harare on Monday, Cde Muduvuri said: "I received your letter in May requesting me to be your patron, but at the time I did not pay much attention to it. Until last week, I then received communication from other leaders that churches were failing to have access to the President and it will be imperative for me to accept your request and work your bridge to the President.
"Pentecostals also came with the same request. I am a politician, but people know that I am a hard worker. A case in point is when the President offered to donate 300 cattle to the African Union. I said to the President, may you give me the task to mobilise the cattle because you have done a lot to empower us.
"The President agreed and I mobilised the 300 cattle and the President went and presented a US$1 million cheque to the African Union. Of course, I was helped by other Government departments and the party (Zanu-PF), but I did a lot for that programme to be a success.
"I am happy that as the church, you said you prayed for the rains and God answered your prayers. The President provided people with inputs under the Presidential Input Support Scheme and this year we have a bumper harvest. You said you wanted to meet the President and thank him for providing the inputs that enabled us to provide food for our country. I said if this is the good work that you want me to do, I accept that."
AACZ national coordinator Mr Emmanuel Muzhangiri said: "We used to work with the ACCZ along with (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru, but we left them because they were getting too much involved in politics.
"Some might be asking questions thinking that we have come here to tell you about campaigning for Zanu-PF ahead of elections, but no, we want to make sure that we work with them because we have said to them there are things we want done for the church because we have seen them give things to women and youths."