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Passion Java’s ‘night of spectacles’ that never was

The cavernous National Sports Stadium, boasting a capacity of 60 000, stood mostly empty despite Java's fervent pronouncements and reported backing from Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu PF.

Passion Java’s highly-publicised “Night of Wonders” crusade fell far short of expectations, leaving the controversial preacher facing questions about his influence and the reach of his ministry.

The cavernous National Sports Stadium, boasting a capacity of 60 000, stood mostly empty despite Java's fervent pronouncements and reported backing from Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu PF.

Prior to the event, Java had gone as far as vowing to “never preach again” if he couldn’t fill the stadium.

However, last Thursday night’s praise and worship event saw only a sparse crowd scattered across a few sections, a stark contrast to the promised overflow.

Adding to the night’s drama were reports of Zanu PF mobilising its supporters to attend the event. Social media messages circulated instructions from a Zanu PF official directing district leaders to ensure party members showed up “without fail”. This raised eyebrows, further blurring the lines between religion and politics in Zimbabwe.

“All district chairpersons in Zone 6 are required to mobilise all members (munhu wese hake) to attend the church programme being hosted by Evangelist Passion Java,” read a notice by Zanu PF Harare Zone co-ordinator Joshua Gore.

Java’s association with Zanu PF has always been a point of contention. His flamboyant lifestyle and pronouncements have drawn criticism, and his alliance with the ruling party has alienated some followers who view it as an opportunistic move.

This latest event, with its empty seats and reliance on political muscle, seems to be a low point for the self-proclaimed prophet.

Despite the disappointing turnout, Java took to social media with a characteristically defiant: “Thank you Zimbabwe for last night. It was really a wonder.”

However, the hollow ring of those words couldn’t mask the reality – Passion Java’s “Night of Wonders” served as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by even the most vocal religious leaders.

It remains to be seen whether he can regain the momentum and social media following he enjoyed prior to the 2023 elections, or if this event marks a turning point in his influence.

He has spoken out about the dire state of Zimbabwe’s healthcare system. In a recent interview on DJ Ollah 7's podcast, Java slammed the system, specifically referencing the struggles of Chitungwiza Hospital.

The hospital has received a donation of medical supplies from Passion Java Ministries and the Lilly Java Foundation.

Zimbabwe’s healthcare facilities are facing a critical crisis, with shortages of staff, medicine, and equipment leaving many in desperate situations.

“I was touched when I learned that women are giving birth on the floor because hospitals have no beds and blankets,” Java said.

“I took (adopted) a hospital ward that I want to renovate. There are no toilets, and people use the bucket system. Influential personalities like Winky D shouldn't come out publicly and expose such ‘truths’; they should instead use their influence to promote positive change.

“Even the procedure of importing the ambulances from South Africa for donations was crazy.

“They were supposed to enter Zimbabwe for free, but I couldn't get them in. I had to make a plan to pay for them. To be frank, people are struggling in Zimbabwe.”

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