Father Oskar Wermter, social communications secretary for the Zimbabwe Catholics Bishops' Conference (ZCBC), has protested against remarks by politicians in the ruling party, Zanu PF, who compared their leaders to Jesus Christ.

Wermter, a white clergyman who has often criticized the government, was commenting on remarks by Josiah Hungwe, provincial governor of Masvingo province, about 180 miles southwest of Harare, who last week compared a minister in the national government minister to the "Son of Man"—a term often used in the New Testament.

Hungwe made his remarks after Border Gezi, the minister of employment creation, promised to give millions of dollars to youths in the province of Masvingo for self-help projects. Delighted by the promise, Hungwe publicly thanked Gezi, saying: "Wherever the Son of Man goes, the hungry are fed. The blind are made to see. We know you can create jobs for our youths because we heard you did the same in other provinces."

Father Wermter told ENI the statement was blasphemous. "All serious Christians are dismayed at the arrogance of such leaders and their disrespect for the religious feelings of Zimbabwean Christians," he said.

The ZCBC was well aware, he added, that this was not the first statement of its kind comparing politicians to Jesus Christ. Before parliamentary elections last June, Hungwe angered Christians when he compared President Robert Mugabe to Jesus Christ during a Zanu PF campaign rally in Masvingo.

Two years ago, Tony Gara, then a Zanu PF member of parliament, triggered an angry reaction from local Christians when he also compared President Mugabe to Christ during a session of parliament.

Father Wermter told ENI: "We expect the leadership of the party to which the politicians belong ...

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