19 March 2017
HARARE – Following a six-week stint behind bars after being denied bail by
the Harare Magistrates’ Courts, Remnant Church pastor Phillip Mugadza (PM)
became a talking point.
He was subsequently granted bail by the High Court, but had to endure
another weekend behind bars after a clerk at the court initially refused
to accept his bail money, purporting that authorities wanted to
authenticate the order.
It is against this background that our deputy chief writer Tendai
Kamhungira (TK) spoke with the anti-Mugabe cleric upon his release on his
future plans and jail experience.
TK: When you were incarcerated, we had a chance to meet some of your peers
in Kariba, who said they warned you against participating in political
activism. Do you ever regret taking part in political activities?
PM: No, I don’t, I will never do that and I really don’t take what they
said seriously in the sense that I am not annoyed or offended by such
statements, because there is one thing I know that we are called
differently. And because of that understanding I know my calling is
different from their calling. As a result, they cannot understand the
things that I do, in as much as I would not understand what they do as
TK: After all that has happened, do you now realise the weight of
prophecies that are made by men of God, considering what you have gone
PM: I have said before that under normal circumstances, the prophetic word
which I gave didn’t guarantee anybody to be arrested not in any way but
because our situation is not a normal situation, anything is possible.
They can do anything to you for saying anything, whenever they feel that
they really want to incarcerate you, they can do that.
TK: During your time in remand prison, we understand your church
disintegrated. Are you likely going to abandon the ministry?
PM: Not really. I may not only continue in Kariba, but what I would do is
maybe relocate to Harare. One development I think is positive in Harare,
is that many people know me for what I am doing and what I stand for, what
I believe, so when they come in, they will not be surprised. I think it’s
going to be a good move for me to be starting all over here.
TK: As a pastor, do you think the church has a role to play in the
politics of the day?
PM: Seriously, biblically, we see that God was the one who chose
leadership, so if God would choose leadership, what more of today? The
church has got to be involved because the church is the body of Christ. It
means the church represents God here on earth. What God desires, what God
wants to see happening in nations, ought to be propagated by the church.
So the church has a very critical role to play, especially in the
Zimbabwean situation. God has been speaking for a very long time saying
that this cross-over is the “Jordan Cross-over”.
We crossed over in 1980, which was the war of independence but now after
37 years, we have been in the wilderness and it’s high time we cross over
the Jordan River. And this challenge we have is the Jordan River
Challenge, which has got to be the crossing by the leadership of the
church in the sense of the church moving ahead, being at the front of the
whole thing because if it is not done that way, there is going to be a lot
TK: Did you ever feel let down by your fellow pastors during the time that
you were incarcerated, considering that very few were vocal about your
PM: Zimbabwe has always been like that and maybe particularly for me. For
me, I have seen that right from 2015, with the Victoria Falls escapade, I
have realised I also didn’t receive a lot of support from the clergy and
the same thing has been going on, though slightly different this time
around because I received some bishops who actually came to visit me and
some pastors also came to see me.
Bishop (Ancelmo) Magaya came to see me. But of these renowned prophets, I
am not sure, maybe they supported me verbally, I am not aware. But it’s
like a norm in Zimbabwe, many of our well-known pastors and “prophets” are
so fearful which causes them to misinterpret the word of God.
Where they say the church is only meant to be praying and praying for the
leadership and I would say fine in that case, how do you pray for the
president, how do you pray for President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and they
will stop there, they will not tell me that because when they say that,
it’s a cover-up for their fear.
So the bottom line is that the church in Zimbabwe is still so fearful but
my word is that they have got to wake up because the Bible says we were
not given the spirit of fear but of sound of power, that’s what we have.
TK: As a man of cloth, what do you foresee happening as the country moves
towards next year’s crucial elections and what should the church do in the
PM: We know the tendency of our crazy Zanu PF party, whenever they come to
polls, they really make sure that they intimidate people, they put more
fear in people. People are already fearful, but they would really want to
add more fear in them so that when they vote, they vote in the “right
way”. I strongly believe that it is going to happen again.
We need as a church to be pro-active, we cannot only be seen to be there
condemning what could have happened, instead we should be all out and
speak even before things start to happen. It’s very, very important and
that we even put contingent measures in place, programmes to reach out to
the whole nation to bring people together and say, we are brothers, we are
sisters, there is no need for us to be fighting for the party which stands
up and say we are superior to other parties.
TK: By failing to name a successor way before the squabbles currently
bedevilling his party started, do you think Mugabe blundered?
PM: I am so much in disagreement with the idea that he has got to name a
successor; this is not a chieftainship. We are not a kingdom in any way,
so there is no way we can say somebody has to name a successor, for what?
Where does that leave the people, if somebody, an individual has got the
mandate to name a leader who is going to be leading people? It doesn’t
work like that, people have got to be given their chance, people have to
do what they are supposed to be doing.
Mugabe says we are a democratic country. It should not be a prerogative of
one person to say that so and so must be taking over from me, it doesn’t
make sense, who are you?
It’s not on, we are propping him up to think that he is some guy from some
universe such that he can name his successor. He should not and he cannot
name his successor, people have got to make a choice.
TK: Given the political, economic and social situation currently
prevailing in the country, where do you think we are heading?
PM: As things are, I don’t think we are going in the right direction, but
by faith, everything works for the good, but its only when we pull
together, we come together and we begin to be determined and we make
decisions which are not selfish but decisions which are for the interest
of the whole nation.
Zimbabwe is a great nation and eventually it will change its name to Great
Zimbabwe, because of what we have gone through, when we come out of it, we
are not going to be a small nation.
TK: Now tell us about your prison experience?
PM: Nasty I should say, I have just realised that the Prison Act was never
changed since 1980, which means that whatever has been done or whatever
has been happening is still (Ian) Smith’s way of running things and this
is the shocking thing about the whole situation.
Mugabe spent close to 11 years and many of his other friends under those
same conditions which were so terrible, they saw them, they knew them, it
pained them very much but when they came out, they never looked back and
began to say no, what we went through, not even one of our people will go
through the same, they left it intact and it is still working today,
that’s the worst part and it really made me so angry when I was looking at
all that, but I am saying what’s going on with these guys, they have even
The whole system is a whole lot better than the way it was being done and
run by Smith. That’s a pathetic situation and I strongly believe that if
Smith was alive, he would have asked, guys is this what you really wanted?
I shouldn’t have fought you, I was just going to say, right, change the
name and I have a got my farm in Shurugwi, as simple as that . . . they
started learning from Smith and started perfecting the whole system and it
is a very, very sad situation. That is what is going on in the prison,
people are just being beaten for no apparent reason.
I saw four guards taking turns to beat inmates and I had to stand up and I
went there and when this other guard saw me, he asked everyone else to
stop beating this other guy because I had stood up to say guys, this is
not on, you can’t just do that, if you want to do that, you can do that on
me because I cannot be here and seeing this happening and say nothing
The other sad issue about prison is the lice, plenty of lice in there and
they can make one sick. I have never heard of any sickness that comes out
from being bitten by lice as is with mosquitoes but I am telling you that
people got wounds from lice and I had a fever from lice. Unfortunately, I
lost my tin of lice. I had collected lice because I wanted to bring them
over just to say Mr President, these are your boys in the prison, who are
just eating people.
These are parasites, as my friend Evan (Mawarire) said that the state of
the nation is reflected by the state of the prison. I strongly believe the
same thing. There are parasites in prisons and there are parasites in the
nation of Zimbabwe. They are sucking our economy dry, they are sucking
people out of every cent on roadblocks, the system is sucking people of
every penny, they would have earned in a very hard way. There is
corruption at every turn in the nation of Zimbabwe. It’s so terrible. That
experience of lice in prison was not so good for me.
TK: How does your family, especially your wife, take your decision to
participate in political activities?
PM: Initially, it wasn’t very easy but she has since adjusted in a very
amazing way and I want to thank God. She is a young woman but is getting
to be very strong and bold. She can’t be able to really say much
concerning what I am doing but the support is very amazing and I really
thank God for the woman she is and being in my life and being the mother
to my boys. I strongly believe that she is going to be doing more, even
though I appreciate what she is doing now.
TK: How has she been coping during your absence?
PM: Friends have been coming through, sending this and that so that she
could keep on going and take care of the family. On her conjugal rights,
she was obviously shortchanged, which I strongly believe the government of
Zimbabwe has got to be charged for taking those rights from her, because
they are her rights.
It’s the Zimbabwean regime which arrested me and I was their prisoner but
they also made my wife a prisoner. She was not getting what she was
supposed to get from me as a husband, so I am saying I think it’s very
important for the government to be held accountable for that.
I don’t know how people will take it because in prison I have seen condoms
and I have seen them not with guards, I have seen them with inmates, what
does that tell you? It means some gay activity is most likely going on,
though even I am told that you can actually have sexual intercourse with a
woman in jail. It’s a shocking thing but I am told it’s possible and they
told me how that could be done, though I was asking could I have my wife
They said no. I said I only want to have sex with my wife and no one else
and I began to realise that there is need for the government to seriously
think about this and even Mugabe says gays and lesbians are worse than
dogs, which is not a very good statement from a leader because from my
point of view as a clergyman, everybody was created in the image of God
irrespective of what they do.
They could be doing wrong things but that does not make them a dog at any
given point. The best way is to speak to them so that they know what they
are doing is wrong, so if the president seriously is against this, what
does he have to do, he has got to create a situation where he is going to
have what I call “conjugal cottages” in prison.
The women as they come in to visit the husbands, they can go in and sleep
with their husbands, once a week or once a month, that’s a good idea. It
is done in Rwanda because they know it is very important, because it
reduces the rate of gay activities.
So if he (Mugabe) is serious about it, he has got to open such cottages
because you end up arresting two people, you end up arresting the husband
and arresting the wife at the same time or the opposite if the wife is
actually the one incarcerated.
TK: Do you harbour any political ambitions?
PM: I really wouldn’t want to say harbour because at times harbouring is
like hiding, it’s like you are not really coming out in the open, I have
always wanted to be involved in active politics, because I have realised
that if you want to see a change, be involved in the change, be part of it
and it is not a sin or a crime to be a politician.
TK: Have you so far taken any initiative towards achieving that goal of
fully participating in politics?
PM: As I have been doing my stuff for the past one year, I have been
linking up with a number of political parties, which I may not be able
mention right now, but I have realised that in the process of interacting,
there were a lot of weaknesses in the process, so I then said to myself I
will wait and see where exactly I would fit in. Seriously any time, I will
be making a decision as to where I will exactly be belonging. Maybe I will