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Zimbabwean churches to pay taxes: Evil or ethical move?

HARARE – Zimbabwe recognises freedom of worship.    However, a question baffling many Christian entities including The Aloe News is th...

HARARE – Zimbabwe recognises freedom of worship. 
However, a question baffling many Christian entities including The Aloe News is the statement by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) Commissioner-General Gershem Pasi their intentions to tax churches to a Parliament portfolio.  

But why is the proposed taxation limited to churches – and not Rastafarians, Muslims and African traditionalists?  

Words by Derick Matsengarwodzi: media consultant, author and founder of Aloe Media Group. Let us interact through: Facebook; Email:; Blog:

Customarily, taxes were confined to income, Capital Gains, Withholding, Employees, and Value Added.   

Show us the buck  
Pasi’s recent notice will take effect from January 2016 – meanwhile the tax collector is fine tuning the legislative modalities. And according to The Aloe News research, this proposal is not confined to Harare. Other prominent churches beyond Zimbabwe remit taxes for business transactions conducted within their confines. 

While some churches are already questioning the proposed law, fugitive Prophet Eubert Angel once claimed he was worth, a cool ‘$60 million.’ He mentioned this in a backdrop of an ailing economy. Added to this, he cruised in expensive wheels that many people could only imagine of owning. Was Angel a self-made millionaire or he benefited through his church ties?  

During a business seminar, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa stated that he owned shares in UK-based concerns. The flamboyant preacher is building a mammoth church that will accommodate thousands after completion. During United Family International Church (UFIC), The Aloe Media witnessed trade involving more than 10 000 congregates. Though a portion belongs to him, how can one separate his savings from the church?     

Magaya, the ‘trillionare’  
Following a prerequisite visit by Zimra officials at his offices, Prophet Walter Magaya, arguably the owner of the largest church in figures, said ‘they are after me’. Here is a generous man who has donated large sums of money towards the needy. But can churches really conduct a profitable business? While some founders are hiding behind ‘donors’ who are said to pour finances into the ministry.  

To explain it further, Prophet Magaya attracts a 50 000 plus gathering every week. Inside his service, he sells anointed oil, regalia and compact disks ranging from $5 to $10 a piece. If these figures are combined with consultation fees charged to meet the prophet at his lodges, equivalent to hoteliers where each visitor forks around $250. This is what Zimra is targeting and not tithes and offerings. 

“We are not going to tax tithes – we are not going to tax offerings. I think churches are doing businesses. So it’s the church businesses that are going to be taxed… There is money that belongs to the church,” revealed a Zimra official interviewed by The Sunday Mail. 

So many whys?  
Tinzwei understands that Zimbabwe respects freedom of worship. Besides Christians, African Religion Tradition (ART), Rastafarians, Muslims, Baai Faith just to mention a minority. And if this is true, why then target churches and omit other religions commanding a large following such as the Muslim community. While churches collect tithes, what do other religions classify such donations and who is set to benefit.  

The biggest question is: why is Zimra confining its revenue base towards church organisations, whereas other religions are also engaged in business transactions that bring revenue to their organisations.

Does it imply that the Rastafarian or traditional ceremonies will not remit taxes when they also make profit from their various gatherings? Are churches paying the price for spreading the true word towards believers? Or is that churches have become authorities attracting millions, an exercise that even politicians are now failing to accomplish? – The Aloe News  

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