Two days before his dramatic arrest on rape charges on Friday, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) founder Walter Magaya (WM) spoke to us about the alleged sex scandals that have blighted his name during a visit to Bulawayo.
Magaya had just launched an ambitious housing project in the city that will see PHD building over 5 000 houses. He told our senior reporter Xolisani Ncube (XN) that because of his popularity many people were trying to extort money from him using cooked up stories. Below are excerpts of the interview.
XN: It’s now five years since your ministry started; a lot has been written about you, including allegations that you are a bed-hopper. How does your wife respond to things that come out against you?
WM: She is a hero I can tell you, a marvel. I just imagine if I had married a wrong wife things would have been different by now.
She would have left me long back. But she has remained with me, yes at first she was worried but now she understands me better and knows what would be happening. You know at times she laughs off at things that would be said against me because she knows the truth.
At times a person would lie that I was with Magaya last night when in actual fact we would be together in South Africa on a private visit.
At times someone would claim that I called her or him and discussed something when she would be the one with the phone. So she is really a hero.
XN: How did she react to initial stories that you were involved with other women?
WM: She was really upset, I had to give her my phone. I had to give her the management of my finances, my private emails and all sorts of personal things. That really helped rebuild the trust between us. She has access to my phone, my email and finances.
I try to treat her well because she is a hero. She is very courageous. She prays for me, in fact she is more prayerful than me.
XN: How about her relatives, how do they react to such allegations?
WM: They too are very supportive, yes some might have doubts and feel as if their daughter is in trouble, but most of them understand that these things would just be lies. Do you know that some people are after pulling the ministry down and they are looking for ways to extort me daily, threatening to tarnish my image and that of the ministry?
But I thank the one who anointed me to deliver people for he is taking us through despite all that and people who are taking their time to listen to what I am taking from God are being blessed.
There are some, say a girlfriend from school days who can come and make all sorts of unfounded claims because the popularity I now enjoy. They think they are justified to benefit from me because we once interacted.
I may have communicated with some and said something like “advancement” but even if one does not pursue it, they still come and lie that he is or was my boyfriend and so on and so forth.
Some misinterpret what you would have communicated to them and think otherwise. So it’s a real challenge.
XN: How do you deal with extortionists?
WM: You know what, in economic hardships, God stands with his people and some are trying to survive by extorting me and steal from the ministry but here we are, I value my wife and thank prayer partners for standing with me.
It is amazing that in all this, I realised that God gave me real friends when I was young and all those friends are with me in the ministry. Some come to milk and they go and some come as friends to find ways to tarnish my image and they fail, but as a ministry we are witnessing God’s hand and he is taking us through. If you look at the stories that are published, they come from people who would have failed to extort me, but I thank God we have managed to survive and grow.
XN: We have read reports that you don’t have a mobile phone, but here you are saying you gave your wife a phone. Can you explain?
WM: I don’t have a phone number which I can give to everyone. I just use my phone to communicate with my wife,overseer Admire Mango and those really close to me, that’s all. The reason being that I don’t want to have too much communication because some people would misinterpret a simple message like “hi, how are you” to mean something else, so I avoid that.
XN: In the past we have read reports of a sour relationship between you and other prophets. How is your relationship with bishop Ezekiel Guti and Emmanuel Makandiwa?
WM: I have never met Baba Guti. I would really want to meet him. He is a great man and I really respect him. Prophet Makandiwa is a nice man, very nice and amazing indeed. He has love and great respect for others. I thought he would not relate to me well when I reached out to him, but I was really surprised with his reaction and hospitality. He is a great man of God, that you can’t take away from him.
XN: How do you know that he is a great man of God? How do you measure that?
WM: Time tests every person and I believe the growth of their ministries has more to do with their steadiness in facing challenges. Prophet Makandiwa is such; he has stood the test of time and overcame many challenges.
XN: What’s your relationship with other prophets and those who leave your church for greener pastures? I am talking about those who would have been senior and close to you.
WM: I have no beef with those starting their ministries and those looking for greener pastures as I look forward to grow to where church leaders like Guti of Zaoga and Makandiwa are. We have so many people who have left and have started their own things. We wish them the best.
XN: At the beginning of the year, you prophesied that this year would be a year of “overflow and abundance”, but we are seeing different things, where is the overflow?
WM: It’s there and this project we are working on is testimony to that. We are witnessing 90 000 houses being built in such a Zimbabwe, my Lord. Yes, you will have to come to church and witness the overflow. Oh yes, that message was for “my children”. If anyone wants to enjoy the overflow, they must come to church.
XN: But surely not all can be PHD members. Are you saying those Christians who are not seeing the overflow and abundance are not praying to God?
WM: They must receive what their God is giving them. They must be receiving according to what their prophet or bishop or pastor is giving them. “My children” are receiving and witnessing an overflow which is visible.
XN: What motivated you to start the housing initiative that you launched in Bulawayo and what do you seek to achieve?
WM: I look at the love and passion which my partners have for me. These people have stood with me through thick and thin. They have given all they have, all they could afford for the cause of the ministry and the gospel. They have loved me with a great passion which even today, I do not know how to measure.
If you look at the journey we have travelled as a church or ministry, it has been difficult, a lot of issues have been written about me, a lot of them negative, but these people have stood with me and shared my vision.
I asked myself, how can I pay them back besides being their spiritual father? I thought it was noble and indeed important for me to say thank you to them. These people ignored all the issues and continued to support the church. In fact, the support grew such that I am humbled. Given that, I thought I needed to start something which would redeem their time… something they will benefit from and this is exactly the project. We are redeeming our time. My focus is to make sure my partners get the best life here on earth and in heaven.
The thrust of this project is to ensure our partners, some of them really sacrificed everything for their faith, have a place to call home. Some have been lodgers for many years and we are saying it’s now a changed game. They are now going to be landlords.
XN: Who is funding this project and how will they benefit?
WM: This is a project funded by partners; the people who have stood with the church since its formation. We don’t have any other funding other than the partners who have been contributing towards this initiative.
XN: Are you giving out these houses to your partners for free or they will have to pay?
WM: They will pay a minimal amount because as a church we have a construction firm which will do most of the work for them. Do you know that the bigger cost in construction is the servicing part? So my company Planet Africa, will do the servicing of the land, build houses for them for free. They will only pay for the land and the house which brings the cost down by 60%. More so, they will pay in instalments so that every partner gets a house of his or her own. That is my wish and dream.
XN: You are saying the project will benefit your partners only, are you not tying them to your church?
WM: In this country we have freedom of worship and we believe in that as well as a ministry. We are not tying anyone to our ministry. I have told the partners that in the event that they leave the ministry, they will still own their properties. But, as a closed village, we will have rules, the dos and don’ts of that community.
XN: Where are you getting the land from? Are you buying or you are using your political connections to get it?
WM: We are buying from both government and private owners. I can tell you 80% of the land we have was bought from private land developers.
And we appreciate our government for facilitating that we get the remainder of the land we are building on. The purchase of this land around the country has been transparent and in line with the laws of the land.
In areas where there are people settled there either illegally or otherwise, we will follow the law in removing them. We have land in Bulawayo where we are going to build 5 000 houses and we have land in Mutare, Kwekwe and Harare.
In Harare our land is in Chishawasha. It will be a massive development; we are looking at building a school, shopping malls and other facilities to cater for the people who will reside there.
We want to build state-of-the-art houses. We are not just building houses, but luxurious houses that will attract tourists and be a model for the future.
XN: How do you feel embarking on such massive projects when the populace is suffering? Where are your partners getting the money to fund this kind of a project given the economic situation?
WM: Xolisani, we declared this year a year of overflow and abundance, indeed it is that year. “My children” are prospering because they have listened to the voice of the Lord. In any case, whenever there is an economic crisis, not all suffer and my children, because of the favour from God, they are succeeding.
We are going to succeed in this kind of an environment and I know with God on our side, we will succeed. Yes, I may have a few other businesses to complement the partners, the main funders of this project are my partners both locally-based and those in the Diaspora. I have a few mines and farms, all doing well, but still the partners are the key people in this initiative.
XN: Are you not biting more than you can chew, considering the many projects you are now involved in?
WM: The bible says faith without works is dead; we have to work here on earth and live happily here on earth as well as in Heaven. The housing initiative will not disrupt other projects. I am a good planner and I manage these issues well. The stadium we wanted to build will no longer be for public use, it will now be for “my children”; those who will be staying at our villas in Waterfalls, Prospect. We will build a public stadium in Chishawasha where we have planned will be various facilities. So don’t worry, I will complete all the projects in time without prejudice to any of the works.
XN: Let’s talk about the villas you are building in Prospect, are they for public use and how will you maintain the aspect of them being owned by the church and the public demand to have things like beer and prostitution there?
WM: No, they are not for public use. They are for “my children”. That facility is for those who want to come to church and would need time to pray. They will stay there, away from the city’s noise, go to the prayer mountain and have time with God. Let me make it clear, it’s for “my children” and visitors who would be coming from outside the country. They will be staying there, while I minister to them. This will afford me more time to visit them easily and at a lower cost.
XN: How can you assure potential buyers of the houses that they are safe?
WM: Definitely safe and sound, the city inspectors are there and we even surpass their expectations. We are building to the best that this country cannot even think of. The works there are really to the best of our ability.
XN: Did Nigerian preacher TB Joshua have some influence in this project?
WM: He is my role model and I copy a lot from him. But when it comes to the strength of those villas, we are far much better [than TB Joshua’s guest houses that collapsed in 2014 killing several people].
XN: We have seen a number of spiritual fathers of various prophets visiting their sons and not yours, why? Will he ever come to visit your ministry?
WM: That really depends with the kind of a son the person is visiting. I would really want him to come and time will tell. At the moment he has not seen it fit to come. We will need bigger infrastructure for him to come so that he is accommodated and currently we don’t have. Also it depends on whether the hosting government is willing, ready to invite him. So, I will look into that as well. But yes, one day he will come. I pray for that.
XN: Your last words to your partners and Zimbabweans at large.
WM: Let us remain faithful to God, he will heal us. Let us increase our faith and God will increase his blessings to us.
To my partners, this is your time, I will never forsake you. For every cent you contributed to God, he will surely reward you in accordance.