Church Leader’s Candy Deal Raises Concerns in Zimbabwe

Exclusive Candy Deal Sparks Controversy in Zimbabwe

by Victor Adetimilehin

A controversial decision by Cossam Chiangwa, leader of a breakaway faction of the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) in Zimbabwe, has sparked discontent and accusations of impropriety. Chiangwa recently mandated that church members exclusively purchase and consume confectionery products from Lobels, a company owned by investment giant Old Mutual.

This unexpected directive has left many congregants confused and suspicious. No official explanation has been provided for the sudden shift towards a single candy supplier. Churchgoers interviewed by expressed concerns, with some suggesting a potential “clandestine deal” between Chiangwa and Lobels.

“We have reason to believe that Chiangwa and other church leaders might have received some kind of benefit in exchange for giving Lobels exclusive rights,” said Olivia Chiwara, a member of the AFM faction led by Chiangwa. “From now on, Lobels will be the only candy sold at all AFM events. Church members are also being encouraged to buy it for personal use at home.”

Chiangwa is already facing internal pressure to step down due to disputes regarding leadership elections within the church. His faction split from the main AFM congregation over similar issues of transparency and accountability.

Efforts to obtain comment from the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) regarding the legality of Chiangwa’s mandate were unsuccessful. Attempts to reach both the CPC’s CEO and Director of Research and Public Affairs went unanswered.

“We can’t afford another situation where a religious leader dictates what people can and can’t buy,” said another anonymous source. “It’s concerning that a church leader would feel comfortable controlling something as personal as someone’s candy choices. This kind of behavior reminds us of cult tactics, where leaders exert undue control over their followers’ lives.”

Competition in Zimbabwe’s Confectionery Market

Lobels, the chosen candy supplier for Chiangwa’s AFM faction, faces significant competition in Zimbabwe’s confectionery market. Companies like Marondera-based Proton, Innscor’s Bakers Inn, and the newcomer Mr & Mrs Sinkwa have been steadily capturing market share. These competitors offer a wider variety of candy products at competitive prices.

Chiangwa’s decision has raised serious concerns about transparency and potential financial gain for the church leadership. Many congregants worry that this deal sets a dangerous precedent, allowing religious leaders to leverage their position to influence consumer choices.

Comparisons have been drawn to cult recruitment tactics, where leaders exert undue control over followers’ finances and behavior. Churchgoers fear that Chiangwa’s directive could be a gateway to further manipulation within the faction.

Uncertain Future for the Deal

The long-term implications of Chiangwa’s candy mandate remain unclear. It’s uncertain if the church will face legal challenges from consumer protection agencies or if Lobels will face criticism for its role in the deal.

Dissenting church members may choose to ignore the directive and continue purchasing candy from other brands. This situation could lead to further internal conflict within the faction.

Chiangwa’s decision has broader implications for religious organizations in Zimbabwe. The situation raises questions about the ethical boundaries between religious leadership and commercial interests. Transparency and accountability are crucial for maintaining the trust of congregants.

Religious leaders play a significant role in the lives of their followers. They must avoid actions that could be perceived as manipulative or financially motivated.

The coming weeks will likely reveal how this situation unfolds. Whether Chiangwa rescinds the mandate in response to the backlash or continues to enforce it remains to be seen. This story will be updated as further developments occur.

Source: New Zimbabwe


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