|Guvamombe should research N’angas Act|
|Saturday, 21 July 2012 00:00|
Reading Isdore Guvamombe’s latest account under his column “Reflections,” on Friday the 13th of July 2012, I felt strongly that I should help this old man in the profession with a few information nuggets.
Cognisant that one of the temptations in journalism, when you approach your sell-by date, is to try and conceal your uselessness by creating space for yourself in the publication, space that carries copy very few would challenge by virtue of it being opinion, I took it upon myself to help this member of the clan realise he still has an audience hence the need for thorough research before he takes to writing.
Obviously, by allocating himself a column and choosing to write opinions, he escapes the sharp scrutinising questions of young minds during diary meetings for the ideas communicated in these columns are never subjected to some peer review before they are put out to the public for consumption.
More often than not, because these sit-in columnists are ‘veterans’ in the trade, they write before research, argue from their hearts not intellect, and most dangerously, think because they have space, they can use it anyhow, including spewing mischief with impunity.
Since Guvamombe anticipated “a backlash from pseudo-Christians” I will not assume the tag of one by attacking his pedestrian reading of the bible, the laws of the country and the operations of statutory bodies such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
Rather, as a true Christian, one devoted to evangelism, piety and the love for one’s neighbour, I have chosen this opportunity to school this old member of our journalistic family for his own good.
The first lesson that Guvamombe needs to take is that, since he is relatively an old man in the profession and is therefore expected to be experienced, wise and acquainted with various professional routines like thorough research, he must know that Christianity, by the very nature of its introduction on this planet, through the first coming of Jesus Christ, has nothing to do with age.
It should be incumbent on Guvamombe to know that Jesus started his ministry at the tender age of 30 and no-one among his disciples was married except Peter (Mark 1: 29-31, Matthew 8:14-15) going by what we read in the bible. To further illustrate the fact that most of Jesus’ disciples were very young, probably below 20 years of age, it was only Jesus and Peter who were asked to pay temple tax in Matthew 17:24-27.
A closer reading of the Bible tells us that those who were below 20 years of age were exempt from paying this kind of tax (Exodus 30:13-14) thus buttressing the argument that most of Jesus’ disciples were below 20.
In fact, Jesus himself refers to his disciples as “little children” (John 13:33) emphasising that the things of the Kingdom of God have been revealed to “babes” (the disciples) while being hidden from the wise and prudent (Matthew 11:25, Luke 10:21).
It is therefore very important, for our veteran journalist, to bear in mind that while one needs to be 40 years old to challenge for the highest office of president of the country in politics, be 21 or more to be elected into the House of Assembly and be 40 years and above to challenge for a seat in the Senate, the qualification for one to be used by God in his Kingdom has nothing to do with age.
For Guvamombe to then consistently attack men of God such as Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and Prophet Uebert Angel because they are young is not only an exhibition of his scant knowledge of the Bible but an arrogant resistance to how God orders things in his kingdom.
The second thing that I need to school Guvamombe on is the pertinence of reading legal statutes before one makes arguments that are legal. I know he is not a lawyer, neither am I, but no person has been arrested for reading statutory instruments, worse still if that person is a journalist.
It does not need a lawyer, or a rocket scientist for that matter, to interpret that the Traditional Medical Practitioners’ Act is for traditional medical practitioners, not church ministers, therefore to proffer that church ministers should be registered under the Act is an exposition of dangerous ignorance that needs to be immediately extinguished before it poisons society.
That Guvamombe professes this kind of ignorance is a clear indication of some profound laziness to do research since the paper he works for, The Herald, is a primary source of information on the various arguments that led to the enactment of the same law he alleges should regulate church ministers.
I thought journalists were taught to ask a series of questions when investigating phenomena hence the song about the five Ws and an H in reference to the need to ask questions such as why, where, what, who, when and How?, in order or them to get to grips with why things happen the way they do.
It is common knowledge that laws are enacted because there would be some issues that need to be addressed by those laws and the first question that a journalist should ask is why there would be a need for the enactment of a particular law?
If Guvamombe had asked himself this question, the Herald editions of October 1980 up to November 1981 would have been very invaluable in giving him information on why this law was promulgated and who it sought to regulate and how registration would be expedited.
Since I chose to help him, I will do just that. The law was enacted after some intense lobbying by, mainly three characters, the late Dr Herbert Ushewokunze, then Minister of Health, his deputy, the late Dr Samuel Parirenyatwa and Professor Gordon Chavhunduka, then lecturer in the department of sociology at the University of Zimbabwe.
The major issue that these men wanted to advance was the recognition of N’angas as bona fide medical practitioners, at par with their Western educated counterparts in conventional hospitals.
It was the argument of Chavunduka, Ushewokunze and their coterie of N’angas that an Act of Parliament whose central feature is the Traditional Medical Practitioners’ Council, which has the same authority as the Medical Practitioners’ Council, be enacted to try and raise the profile of traditional medicines and practitioners to the same level as that of western medicines and the practitioners thereof.
The argument was purely business oriented in as much as it was nationalistic, Pan African and concomitant with the revolutionary euphoria characterising the behaviour of most government officials especially those coming from the bush from whence they had prosecuted the liberation struggle.
The key words used to describe the work of the Traditional Medical Practitioners’ Council are “supervise and control, promote, foster research, develop, hold inquiries and make grants and loans,” for the practitioners to help raise the profile of their practice, medicines and consultation fees hence the attempt by Chavunduka to lobby N’angas to have their own medical aid societies.
It is also pertinent for Guvamombe to know that under the Act, “registration is voluntary” but healers who claim to be registered but are not, can be fined and Zinatha is officially recognised in this Act as the legal body to which traditional healers should belong.
In the same vain, it might be invaluable for him to know that the name “traditional medical practitioner” was variously used until 1981 when it was standardised as N’anga (Shona) by virtue of the enactment of the Traditional Medical Practitioners Act.
So to all intents and purposes, a traditional medical practitioner has to be a N’anga and the N’anga has to be a spirit medium no wonder why even Chavunduka was not recognised as a traditional practitioner by people like ‘Dr’ Mucheka Gombera, president of the True African N’angas and Spirit Mediums Association (Herald, November 16 1981).
Guvamombe also needs to read previous editions of the Herald before he parrots unsubstantial propositions, for if he had read the Herald of Thursday January 26 2012,he could have come across an article headlined “Tax Concessions for Religious Bodies” to understand the tax regime before blaming or trying to coerce Zimra to collect tax that is not due to it.
It is interesting to find out that people like Guvamombe never raise ire when large sums of money are donated to political parties by companies, individuals and foreign governments. We have never heard Zimra being instructed to tax tens of millions of dollars donated to these political institutions yet all we read about is how struggling institutions like indigenous churches need to be taxed.
Guvamombe should also do a bit of research on the Bible to ascertain the purpose of giving and to find out the reason why, despite all the negative things that he and others of his like have been writing against giving, Christians continue to give and never become broke.
The Bible says that when you are generous in your giving (sowing), God will make all grace abound towards you so that you may have more than enough to support the work of the Lord (2Corinthians 9:8) This is when you are not only blessed, but when you become a blessing (Genesis 12:3). That is God’s plan, and that is why He wants us to be generous in our giving.
Finally, as part of this short lecture for Mr Guvamombe, I would like to furnish him with processes through which true men of God are authenticated and the reason why miracles, signs and wonders are important facets of the authentication regime.
The bible, in Acts 2:22 clearly shows that men of God are, “ . . . approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs . . . ”, in as much as these miracles signs and wonders do confirm that the Lord is working with these men of God (Mark 16:20).
The word of God is unconfirmed if signs, miracles and wonders are not performed to confirm this word. Therefore, preaching of the word should be followed by performance of miracles, signs and wonders to confirm the word preached.
It is quite noble and trite, for Guvamombe, if he does not understand things, especially when they concern God’s work and the people he uses, to do prior research or else seek counsel from the biblical Gamaliel in Acts 5:38-39 which say, “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.
“But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Jealousy Mawarire is a freelance journalist and media researcher, and member of United Family International Church. He writes in his personal capacity.