My Personal Encounter With The Outgoing UCCZ President
….. as Rev ETC Ngadziore “ Retires “
By Dr Tinashe Gumbo
Today, the 13th of December 2020, Rev Ephraim Tafura Chandaifira (ETC) Ngadziore retires as the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ) President after serving for two terms. Rev Ngadziore has been more than just a President of his Church but an Ecumenical leader who left a legacy for the broader Church in Zimbabwe.
Mudhara ETC was a darling of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) structures including the Secretariat. I personally worked with him since 2003 to date. He has been too good to me. He was always available for all the ZCC programs. Indeed, here lies a man of God who knew that life on earth also needs to be influenced by the men and women of Cloth. And…..he did it so well that he became a “social, economic, religious and even political justice activist” and I joined him in that field to serve our dear country Zimbabwe.
Rev Ngadziore led one of the biggest mainline churches in Zimbabwe.
While many would joke saying that UCCZ “ndeyekuChipinge”, the institution now boasts of membership that is spread across the country. Prominent National figures have their roots in that Church including the late Nationalist, Rev Ndabaningi Sithole, the prominent Lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Rev Dr Menson Mpofu, the Midlands State University Chaplain among many more academics, politicians and Economists. The Church administers big education and health institutions such as Mount Selinda and Chikore Mission Hospitals and Schools. Thus, Rev Ngadziore has been presiding over these institutions during his tenure as the Head of Denomination for two consecutive terms.
Rev Ngadziore started his journey as a Clergy in 1989 when he joined the United Theological College where he spent four years.
In 1993, he was posted to the Midlands Province where he became the Church point person in Kwekwe. Rev Ngadziore became the ZCC local Chairperson in 1996 where he was being deputised by Rev Cephas Mukandi of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ). By the way, Rev Mukandi later became the ZCC Vice President sometime in early 2000s. While in Kwekwe, the leadership of Rev Ngadziore facilitated the allocation of residential stands for the Ministers of Religion.
Together with his team, Rev Ngadziore successfully campaigned against the participation of the under 18s in beer hall activities.
In 1999, Mudhara ETC was elected Church Superintendent and was moved to Gweru. It is in Gweru that I first met this man who became a close Ecumenical leader that I interacted with till this day when he leaves his church presidency. In 2005, with my colleague at ZCC, Owen Murozvi, under the leadership of Rev Ngadziore, we intervened to guide Church response to the ugly Operation Restore Order (Murambatsvina).
We mobilised support for the victims of this exercise that was implemented by the Mugabe Regime. Many people believe that the operation was fulfilled by the regime to punish the urban dwellers who had voted overwhelmingly for the opposition.
Politics for another day, let me concentrate on the man who led churches to save lives, Mudhara ETC!
In 2006, the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD), then made up of ZCC, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) proposed a way forward for Zimbabwe. The Church leaders came up with the “Zimbabwe We Want Discussion Document”. Through the able leadership of mukoma Gabriel Manyangadze, I, together with Owen Murozvi participated in the very initial development stages of the Pastoral Letter that was later amplified into the Zimbabwe We Want Document.
Now, Rev Ngadziore on behalf of ZCC led the process of popularizing the Document in the province and districts.
He was a Provincial Facilitator (POF) working closely with mukoma Paul Muchena of the ZCBC. I remember very well one incident that befell Mudhara ETC and team in my home area of Mberengwa. The team was detained at Mataga Growth Point for leading the Zimbabwe We Want processes. Rev Ngadziore engaged Councillor Ben Mataga who in turn talked to the then Midlands Boss, the late Minister Cephas Msipa. Rev Ngadziore always narrates this incident to me saying “vanhu vekumusha kwako vakandishungurudza”. That was Mugabe Regime for you.
Later on Rev Ngadziore was moved to the Masvingo province. He became the ZCC Chairperson with Rev Mangiza of MCZ as his deputy. The ZCC Mubatanidzwa became visible during his tenure as the Chair. One major achievement of the leadership of Rev Ngadziore was its influence for the construction of the round about near the Flamboyant Hotel in Masvingo.
Having realised that many people had lost lives through accidents at that spot, the Church leaders
engaged the then Minister of Transport as well as the Masvingo City Council and subsequently, a round about was constructed to reduce accidents at that point.
As the President of the UCCZ and ZCC Supervisory Council member, I interacted with Rev Ngadziore in many ways. I would not follow protocols to invite Rev Ngadziore for participation in ZCC civic processes. He was always available for ZCC High Level engagement process with Constitutional Commissions, Government Departments, Parliament, Diplomats and other key stakeholders. He led many civic programs including the I PRAY I VOTE Campaign, national budget, national dialogue etc(as his name tells-ETC). One thing I will always remember Rev ETC about, is how he communicates with The Almighty in a natural way. His prayer can easily pierce through one’s heart because the man is natural when it comes to prayer. In his deep Ndau he says exactly what he wants unlike other artificial prayers that we always hear around.
Rev Ngadziore’s tenure as President will be remembered for his leadership of the ZCC-UNICEF project in fulfilment of the ZCC’s Ecumenical COVID-19 Response Strategy. Through his leadership, UCCZ benefited from this project-Mount Selinda and Chikore Missions will never be the same after participating in this project. One other major highlight of Rev Ngadziore’s tenure was when he and Chief Mapungwana intervened when the owner of Beacon Hill Farm had evicted many families from the farm in order to grow macadamia. The UCCZ President engaged Professor Madhuku and the case was thrown before the courts. Rev Ngadziore is passionate about people’s lives and he always shared with me his feelings towards the evicted families. He appreciates the legal intervention of Professor Madhuku.
Thus, Rev Ngadziore, stood with the people during trying times. He was always available to save life: he was there for the people during Murambatsvina, he was there for the people when they were affected by Cyclone Idai and indeed, when COVID-19 hit, he was there for the people while he also stood with the evicted farmers. Thank you Mudhara ETC!
Rev Ngadziore is father to Taoneswa, Takudzwa and Elizaberth Ngadziore. He will now join some of his predecessors including Rev Murombedzi Kuchera, Rev Matuvhunye etc etc etc ETC rikava zita ravo!!! NdiMoyo ava!
NB: These are my own personal views about Rev ETC Ngadziore. They do not in anyway represent those of the various institutions I am associated with