(Last Updated on February 7, 2013 by Editor)
HARARE – Charismatic preacher Uebert Angel Mudzanire has confirmed that he owns a Lamborghini — a supercar, which costs nearly $1 million to import into the country.
With a 2012 version of the Lamborghini Aventador priced at $400 000-plus, it would have cost the “man of God” nearly $800 000 to land the car in Zimbabwe if a 100 percent duty tariff was applied for the importation of this expensive ride.
By acquiring this mean machine, which can hit a 0-60 kilometres in 2,9 seconds and has a top speed of 350km/hour, Angel joins an elite group of high-rollers, if not car aficionados, such as runaway businessman Frank Buyanga, who also owns a fleet of fast and pricey wheels.
“Have I imported a Lamborghini? I have a Lamborghini. I am not a hypocrite, I tell you what I have,” the Spirit Embassy Church (Spirit) founder told the Daily News on the sidelines of a Tuesday media conference where he and close pal Emmanuel Makandiwa were forced to explain, if not defend, their miracle crusades.
Apart from this, Angel also owns a bluish $200 000 Bentley coupe, which normally forms part of a five-car cavalcade.
In the convoy, which often attracts stares from home fans, there is also a Range Rover Sport, Jaguar and other cars.
With a number of farms and other undisclosed businesses, the 34-year-old preacher was, however, quick to point out that he did not fund his lavish taste with church offerings.
“We have been calling the media to come to church, especially my church. You can come to his (Makandiwa) church (to) count the offerings,” he said, adding journalists could have up to four months for the audit, but “we will obviously put guards because you will steal”.
“You count the tithe yourself, we give you the expenses, then you go and pay, we put people to go with you. Then after that you will realise that there is no money to steal because we are the ones who are sponsoring (the church), we don’t (steal), it’s not the way we get money,” Angel said.
“We are blessed of God, we don’t (dip our hands into offerings), what offering? $1? The question should be how do you get your money rather than taking money from the people,” the self-styled and Boston University finance graduate said.
Quizzed on exactly how he gets his money, Angel retorted: “I plead the Fifth Amendment; it means I don’t comment (and) that is not what is under discussion here.”
As Zimbabweans wait to whet their appetite — and eyes — on the Italian-made car known for its bull emblem, it will not be the first time that these celebrity preachers have wowed crowds with big cars.
While his close friend and spiritual twin Makandiwa drives around in a $240 000 white Lexus, and four-wheel drive vehicle, the prosperity gospel proponents left their followers agape at an all-male Harare convention where the conference floor was decorated with cars including a Hummer.
The City Sports Centre event, where people were encouraged to aim higher, was graced by their spiritual father Victor Kusi Boateng, a Ghanaian preacher.
In recent months, Makandiwa has even told his church that he wants his followers to ditch their “Datsun 120Ys” for Mercedes Benzes.
With pentecostalism sweeping through Zimbabwe — offering not only the promise of entering heaven, but earthly possessions and healing — churches are slowly morphing into big business.
Folks continue to water organised leaders’ gardens with monthly tithes set at 10 percent of one’s salary.
Meanwhile, Makandiwa and Angel’s mega-churches have transformed into corporations to an extent that they now have their own broadcasting facilities, TV stations and public relation machines.
Out of their fervent sermons and magnetic personalities, these two gentlemen have transformed Pentecostal movements into one of the country’s fastest-growing evangelical congregations in Zimbabwe.
However, the skyrocketing charge of prosperity gospel clubs comes against a rise in income and wealth disparities in the country, and where scores of people are desperate for get-rich-quick solutions.
In this rush, churches and congregates have a similar goal, critics say. – Gift Phiri, Political Editor