First Lady's entry into politics has shaken Zanu PF to the core. Will she grab the throne?


As Zanu PF factions destroy each other, the military will have a huge say as to who would take over from President Mugabe.


He is a controversial prophet who continues to draw large crowds with his promise of miracles. But as his popularity soars he faces all sorts of allegations. So far he has survived.


Two secretary generals tried to topple him but failed. His wife walked out but returned home. Now MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is plotting his way to State House.


Latest news, entertainment and sports.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


Zanu (PF) youths last night invaded Springfield Farm, owned by the party’s former Chairperson for Mashonaland West, Temba Mliswa and allegedly beat up his workers.
The youths allegedly destroyed Mliswa’s Land Cruiser vehicle as well.

This comes as Mliswa is set to battle it out with Keith Guzah in the Hurungwe West by-elections scheduled for June 10. Mliswa was expelled from Zanu (PF) for allegedly undermining the party’s leadership.

“Youths went to my farm last night and started beating up workers and they even forced the cooks to cook for them. My vehicle was also destroyed by the youths who have unleashed a wave of terror to intimidate the people of Hurungwe West ahead of the by-elections,” said Mliswa.

He was speaking during a press brief in the capital yesterday. Mliswa expressed dismay at the lack of response from the police.

“We alerted the police concerning the violence but there has not been any response up to now. Some of my workers were injured and we thought the police were going to respond but up to now, there has not been any response,” said Mliswa.

He said the Zanu (PF) thugs had set up torture camps in Hurungwe West while others were camped at Magunje Guest House. Mliswa said that some of his supporters had fled their homes for fear of being victimized by the Zanu (PF) youths.

“Right now, we have women in Hurungwe West who do not know where their husbands, who are the breadwinners, are at the moment. All this is happening in little Hurungwe West so what are we saying about the 2018 elections?"said Mliswa. zimbabwean


Harare — More than 2,000 Zimbabweans displaced by xenophobic attacks in South Africa have packed their bags for home. But Zimbabwe, a country teetering on the verge of economic collapse, is unlikely to offer them the means to restart their lives.

The attacks on foreigners, mainly Zimbabweans, Somalis, Malawians, Mozambicans and Nigerians, started in Durban over two weeks ago following comments by Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, suggesting that African migrants in South Africa were criminals who should go back to their countries and stop stealing jobs and opportunities from locals.

Machete- and gun-wielding South Africans burned foreigners' businesses and homes, looting goods, and forcing their inhabitants to flee. Six foreign nationals lost their lives in the attacks, which spread from Durban to other parts of the country, including Johannesburg. The worst of the violence has, for the most part, subsided, but African migrants are well aware that they could re-surface at any time.

Several countries, including Malawi, Mozambique and Nigeria have made efforts to evacuate their citizens from affected areas, but Zimbabwe, which has by far the largest number of nationals living in South Africa, is faced with the biggest challenge. Over years of political and economic upheaval in Zimbabwe, some 1.5 million Zimbabweans are thought to have made the trek south in search of safety and better opportunities. Zimbabwe has set up an inter-ministerial rescue taskforce to repatriate several thousand of them.

Labour and Social Welfare Secretary Ngoni Masoka told IRIN that the Zimbabwean government expected to receive some 2,400 returnees who had opted to return home following the attacks, but added the actual numbers returning could be higher.
"We are getting constant updates from our embassy in South Africa. There could be Zimbabweans who might have decided not to approach us for help for various reasons, so it is difficult to know how many are coming back exactly," he said.

The first batch of 433 returnees arrived last week in government-provided buses at Beitbridge border post from a Durban transit camp where they were being housed following the attacks. According to Masoka, the taskforce is determining their needs, qualifications and destinations so they can be referred to provincial and district welfare officers for help with reintegration. The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are providing returnees with food and other essentials, while specialists are offering counselling and medical attention.

Masoka declined to say whether the government had set aside a budget for the returnees.
Jairos Mangwanya, 36, is under no illusions that life back at home will be easy. He was among the first batch of returnees last week, but decided to hitchhike to Harare, the capital, after becoming impatient with delays getting on a government bus. He left his pregnant wife and two other children to follow on the government-provided transport and went ahead to organize them some temporary accommodation.

Mangwanya had worked in Durban as a teacher for the past eight years. He fled with his family when Zimbabweans at a neighbouring house were attacked and their belongings looted.

"We didn't have the time to pack our belongings because the attackers were coming to our house. We only took some blankets and clothes and fled to the police station. We left our passports, educational certificates, money and other vital belongings behind," Mangwanya told IRIN.

"That means we have virtually nowhere to start from. I can't look for another job without my certificates and I know it will be a long time before the examinations authorities and birth registration officials here can replace my documents."

Finding a place for him and his family to stay in Harare will be tough. Space at his two brothers' homes is already limited.

"My brothers say my wife and the two children will go to one of the houses and I to the other. That must be for a short period, though, because they also have large families and dependants from the extended family," said Mangwanya.

The other option is to take the family to their rural home in Mount Darwin, some 200km away from Harare. But going there will greatly reduce his chances of being able to provide for his family or of his two children being able to attend school.

Mangwanya left South Africa before receiving his April salary and is likely to forfeit his pension and other employment benefits.

Trynos Musumba, 41, who was travelling from Beitbridge with Mangwanda, had been working as a plumber in Durban and remitting part of his earnings to his 70-year old mother and unemployed sisters in Zimbabwe. He left his South African wife and four-year-old child behind in Durban.

"With my return, it means no-one will be able to fend for my family here. My wife is not employed and she will find life tough. I might have to look at ways of going back to a safe city in South Africa and looking for another job," he told IRIN.

His mother, who is diabetic, and the rest of the family live in rural Mhondoro, some 50km west of Harare. The area is one of many in the country to have suffered crop failure this year following poor rains.

"This is a very bad situation being made worse for the migrants," said John Robertson, an independent economic analyst. "They fled Zimbabwe to look for better opportunities and are returning home to the very economic crisis they tried to run away from. The situation could actually be worse than when these people went away."

He added that unofficial unemployment figures in Zimbabwe are close to 80 percent, despite official figures putting it at 11 percent.

Japhet Moyo, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, told IRIN: "Most of the companies have closed down and the few that remain are struggling. Worse still, government cannot absorb [those being retrenched] because it doesn't have the money to employ more people."

Robertson said it was unlikely that the social welfare department would help the returnees in any meaningful way. "Our government has never had an unemployment benefit scheme or social security policy and is too broke to fund any intervention to help the returning Zimbabweans re-integrate. It will thus leave everything to the extended family, hoping that relatives will cushion the returnees," said Robertson.


A herdsman from Bulilima District allegedly raped his neighbour’s five-year-old daughter after the girl’s mother had left her in his care while she went to fetch water. Frank Phiri, 28, of Matjinge area allegedly invited the complainant into his bedroom hut where he raped her once. Upon her return, the girl’s mother found her daughter crying.

When the mother asked Frank why her daughter was crying, he told her that the girl had been complaining of hunger. The girl later revealed to her mother that she had been raped by the herdsman.

Phiri appeared yesterday on initial remand before Plumtree magistrate, Livard Philemon facing a rape charge.

He was remanded in custody to May 6. Prosecuting, Jane Phiri said the girl’s mother left her daughter under Frank’s supervision on April 22 around 7AM.

“The complainant’s mother left her daughter at her neighbour’s homestead under the care of Frank who works as a herdsman as she went to fetch water from a nearby borehole. During her absence, Frank summoned the child into his bedroom hut where he raped her once and ordered her to remain quiet about the incident,” said Phiri.

She said upon her return the juvenile’s mother found her daughter crying and learnt that she had been raped by their neighbour’s herdsman.

Phiri said the woman reported the matter to the police resulting in Frank’s immediate arrest.


Former Vice President Joice Mujuru has tightened her security as more and more intruders are caught and seen prowling at her farm in Beatrice — amid growing concerns that she could be the target of a sinister plot by her political enemies wanting to either assassinate her or plant incriminating evidence at her properties.

 We are all living in fear for her, which is the reason why she has set up patrol teams that comb the vast farm throughout the night. It’s really terrible that this is happening in an independent Zimbabwe which this family sacrificed so much for,” a close family friend told the Daily News yesterday.

But a stoic Mujuru — who supporters want to lead the breakaway Zanu PF formation using the slogan People First, and which includes many prominent liberation struggle stalwarts — is reluctant to discuss the matter, at least for now.

“I appreciate your concerns but I cannot discuss some of these things now,” she told the Daily News yesterday. But Rugare Gumbo, one of her strongest supporters and spokesperson of Zanu PF (People First), said bluntly that the State was behind her continued harassment and was allegedly committing substantial resources to nail her and all those it perceived to be aligned to her.

“Considering what happened to her husband in 2011, she has a right to be concerned. We are actually worried about her safety. The State should ensure that she is safe as a citizen of this country. The fact that most people who are caught at the farm are police and State security agents makes the whole  ‘we were lost excuse’ that they invariably give most questionable,” Gumbo said.

Bizarrely, he added, some of the intruders who had been caught at Mujuru’s farm had not only claimed to be lost, but have either “played mad” or claimed that they were her lovers.

This, Gumbo said, was among the many reasons why People First was challenging the “post-congress Zanu PF to ensure that all citizens are free. You cannot have a country when a party invades churches, a country where a former VP is no longer safe”.

An inquest into the death of Mujuru’s late husband, whose nom de guerre was Rex Nhongo, established that police details posted to keep sentry at the farm were sleeping when the fire reduced the country’s first army general to ashes.

The inquest also established that police on duty at the farm had a defective communication radio and had not been changed as per normal police shift protocols.

A source at the farm said yesterday that Mujuru had set up several patrol teams, but because of the size of the property, some loopholes could always be found by determined intruders.
“The good thing though is that Mai Mujuru enjoys extensive links in government and the country’s security apparatus. Thus, she has been tipped off about some of these nefarious plots to harm her and plant arms caches on her farm, or those who tried to organise a fake robbery that would result in her death.

“Remember she is the former VP and is respected by a lot of people in the establishment so they always tip her off when there is something that is happening. While she prefers not to talk about the matter to the media, Mai Mujuru is concerned, especially considering that the death of her husband has not been resolved,” the source said.

And as the savage assault on Mujuru and her perceived allies intensifies, the likes of Gumbo and former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, have also complained of coming under increasing surveillance from panicky authorities keen to know what the disaffected liberation pioneers are planning and doing. daily news


Zimbabwe was yesterday evening plunged into total darkness after the power utility lost supplies from Kariba South and Hwange power stations, affecting all parts of the country.
Zesa Holdings chief executive Engineer Josh Chifamba said the problem was countrywide and that it was due to a disturbance on the interconnected system.

 “Yes, at around 1945hrs today (yesterday), there was a disturbance on the interconnected system and we lost Kariba and Hwange power stations,” said Eng Chifamba.

He said the actual cause of the blackout was yet to be established, but there were indications that the problem could have started from Zambia.

“We are yet to establish the real cause, but I have been speaking to my counterparts in Zambia who indicated that they were experiencing the same problem,” said Eng Chifamba.
“It could have originated from that side, but we will get the correct facts as time goes on.”
Eng Chifamba said Zesa Holdings was working on restoring power to the country.
“We have started restoration and maybe around 1am tomorrow (today), two units at Hwange will be firing,” he said. “We will update the nation as time progresses, but everything will soon be under control.”

Eng Chifamba said the whole country was affected save for a few parts in Bulawayo that benefit from the supplies imported from Eskom in South Africa.

“The whole country is in darkness,” he said. “Bulawayo is on the supplies coming from Eskom and some parts of the town were spared.”

Writing on his Twitter account, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said engineers were attending to the problem.
“The massive power outage in Zimbabwe has been triggered by a major system disturbance in the regional grid,” he said. “Engineers are attending to it!”

Prof Moyo said “quite a number of areas were affected with Harare all dark when it happened some while ago. Restoration normally is area by area!” At Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare, the blackout left guests in the dark for more than 40 minutes.

People could be seen using their cellphones for lighting, while some were using torches.
The hotel management had problems with the generator and they had to park a Mercedes-Benz at the main entrance to provide lighting for local and foreign patrons.
Most buildings in Harare were using generators for backup, but many others were in total darkness, including all residential areas. herald


SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma yesterday brewed fresh controversy when he appeared to blame a wave of xenophobic attacks that recently rocked Durban and Johannesburg on his country’s neighbours. Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia repatriated hundreds of their citizens caught up in the violence, but victims also included immigrants from further afield, including Nigerians.

Official government figures show seven people have been killed in the attacks, but eyewitness accounts seem to suggest there could be more.

In his Freedom Day address to mark South Africa’s 21st independence anniversary, Zuma took a swipe at countries that have criticised his government for the violence targeted at migrants.

Zuma, digressing from his prepared speech, fired a salvo at critics asking: “As much as we have a problem that is alleged to be xenophobic, our sister countries contribute to this. Why are their citizens not in their countries and in South Africa?”

Zuma appeared to be particularly piqued by Nigeria’s decision to recall its acting High Commissioner Martin Cobham and Deputy High Commissioner Uche Ajulu-Okeke in protest over attacks on its citizens.

Continuing with his off-the-cuff remarks, Zuma said apartheid had left a legacy of psychological sickness in South Africans, which needed healing.

“Apartheid was a violent system and it produced violent counter-measures to it. So people still believe that to fight authority you must fight government . . . They get excited, they burn the tyres; they block the roads; they destroy property exercising their rights, but interfering with the rights of many,” he said.

He said the African Union’s push to promote peace, stability and democracy in every corner of the continent will in the long run reduce the need for people to migrate “towards the South”.

“The promotion of intra-Africa trade, regional integration, infrastructure and other economic interventions is also designed to improve the economic situation in sister countries,” said Zuma.

Analysts yesterday said Zuma’s comments laid the foundation for the demise of his country.
Renowned social commentator Cont Mhlanga said South Africa would soon degenerate into chaos “because its young people have been taught to kill people who are richer than them.”
“Zuma and company are preparing their young ones to kill their own people. The problem in South Africa is deeper than xenophobia, as the country shall soon find out,” Mhlanga observed.

He said the real issue in the neighbouring country was a skewed wealth distribution that left a few citizens extremely rich while the majority wallowed in poverty.

He said the economic model that the country inherited from the apartheid era would be its undoing.

“Very soon these young people will realise that foreigners aren’t the problem. They will soon be demanding their share in blood, from fellow citizens,” said the playwright.
He said the youth were being sharpened for murder and would bring the country’s economy to its knees when their anger finally boiled over.

“Zuma shouldn’t pretend to be dull. South Africa will get a rude awakening if they don’t solve their problem urgently. No country, even America, can survive without migrant labour. Zuma’s comments are even more unfortunate, considering that he was once a refugee here in Zimbabwe, staying in Umguza,” said Mhlanga.

He said Zuma should remember that his ruling ANC was partly to blame for Gukurahundi — the 1980s disturbances in Matabeleland in which the government deployed troops following the discovery of arms caches.

Mhlanga said most of the arms that were found at PF-Zapu farms belonged to the ANC that was being helped by Zimbabweans to fight apartheid.

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo weighed in on Twitter:

“President Zuma’s Freedom Day speech has controversial remarks given recent xenophobic attacks in SA.

“Zuma says AU peace and democracy efforts in Africa ‘will in the long run reduce the need for people to migrate towards the South’. Really?”

Lawton Hikwa, an analyst with the National University of Science and Technology, was more sympathetic to Zuma, insisting his candid comments would force African countries to introspect.

“I don’t think it was his aim to denigrate other countries. It’s a wake-up call to fix our economies so that our people don’t find South Africa that attractive,” he said.

Last week, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi reproached Zuma for saying Zimbabweans filled South African jails.

Mohadi said he was irked that Zuma singled out Zimbabweans when it was apparent that other nationals in that country committed crimes — a majority of whom were South African.
Prominent lawyer Terrence Hussein slammed Zuma saying his comments reflected lack of tact and a lack of control of the situation that was spiralling out of control in his country.
Zimbabwe’s latest labour statistics released by the government statistical agency, Zimstat, show that South Africa contributes the highest proportion of migrant labour in Zimbabwe.
It shows the neighbouring country contributes 45 percent of the 78,000 foreigners working in the country.
Malawi and Mozambique are the next, contributing 22 percent and 15 percent respectively.


TEN Sadc Heads of State and Government are expected in Harare today ahead of the regional bloc’s Extra-Ordinary Summit set for tomorrow to discuss Sadc’s draft industrialisation strategy and the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan. Other countries out of the 15 member States will be represented by high ranking officials.

The bloc has been attacked for ignoring xenophobia in South Africa. The Sadc Council of Ministers held its Extra-Ordinary meeting yesterday and adopted the draft industrialisation strategy that will be presented to the Heads of State and Government Summit.

Addressing a media briefing after the meeting, Sadc Council of Ministers chairman and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the draft strategy would promote the exploitation of the region’s resources for the benefit of its people through value-addition and beneficiation.

“The industrialisation strategy that will be developed focuses on a number of areas,” he said. “The areas that the strategy will look at are related to the whole question of agro-processing. As you know, the bulk of our products are exported in their raw form and we get little returns from them. The idea is that the processing should be done in the region.”

Mumbengegwi said other areas that they looked at related to the growth of the manufacturing sector through value-addition and beneficiation of the region’s vast mineral resources.

“The idea to process them locally is so that not only will we be able to access the finished product at a reasonable price, but we’ll also be able to get better returns from exporting them,” he said.

Mumbengegwi said Sadc had to address a number of pre-requisites like energy, infrastructure and human resources development to ensure the success of the strategy.
“To have this (value addition and beneficiation) a number of factors have to be addressed,” he said. “You can’t manufacture or beneficiate without the requisite skills base, therefore, we need to invest in skills training and human resources development.

“You also can’t do it without energy and as you know we’ve an energy deficit in the region, so this is an area the region has to address. We also have to look at infrastructure, roads and railways. The strategy does appreciate that many of these things have to be done at a national level, but some of them can be done at a regional level.”
Mumbengegwi said Sadc would leverage its abundant natural resources for funding, saying the draft regional policy, if adopted, would not rely on donor funding.

“Our strategy isn’t looking for aid but business,” he said. “We’ll look at bankable projects where investors can come in and make handsome returns from their investments. We’re looking at our resources, we have abundant resources and we can leverage these resources.”

In his remarks while officially opening the Sadc Council of Ministers Extra-Ordinary meeting, Mumbengegwi said the success of the industrialisation strategy and roadmap hinged primarily on effective partnerships between the government and the private sector.

“The Draft Sadc Strategy and Roadmap before you, recognises that industrial policy formulation and implementation will largely be undertaken at the national level and that its success will depend on forging effective partnerships between the government and the private sector,” he said.

“It also seeks to engender major economic and technological transformation at national and regional levels, aimed at accelerating growth and enhancing comparative and competitive advantages of the economies of the region.” herald


ZANU PF deputy spokesperson Psychology Maziwisa, who emerged victorious in the primary elections to become the party parliamentary candidate for Highfield constituency in the June 10 by-election, has accused fellow party members of trying to soil his name.

This followed reports by disgruntled Zanu PF functionaries in the area claiming Maziwisa was imposed as the parliamentary candidate for the by-elections through flawed internal polls ahead of other deserving candidates.

The allegations were recently corroborated by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP).
But Maziwisa yesterday said: “I will not listen to such nonsense coming from people who are not even Zanu PF members. Those allegations are utter rubbish and I will not even dignify them with an answer.”

According to the ZPP report released last week, some Zanu PF members who lost to Maziwisa in the party’s primary elections described the internal polls as flawed.

“ZPP is the creation of the likes of Jestina Mukoko and I have no kind words for such,” he said.

This also came amid reports that Zanu PF Harare provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa was going around canvassing for the support of the alleged “imposed” candidates at the ballot box.

Masimirembwa was also accused of encouraging party youths to enforce the empowerment policy by occupying any open residential spaces in the capital. 

But, Masimirembwa yesterday scoffed at the allegations saying only those who met the criteria were chosen.

“There was no imposition of candidates in the primaries. We have rules and regulations that guide us and those reports are not true,” he said. The ZPP report said in Dzivarasekwa party members were involved in scuffles over their preferred candidates.

The situation was the same elsewhere as there were reports that in Headlands the electorate was equally unhappy about the candidates whom they said were imposed.

ZPP reported that the announcement by the party leadership of Zanu PF Headlands candidate Christopher Chingosho as former party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa’s replacement was not well received by the electorate.

It is alleged the crowd which was being addressed by Higher Education minister Oppah Muchinguri, Agriculture minister Joseph Made and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa started shouting that the candidate had been imposed, but the protests were reportedly quashed by State security agents.

Chingosho said he was not aware that there were such disgruntlements over his candidature. “This is the first time that I’m hearing of this issue,” he said. newsday


A Zimbabwean bishop has been found guilty of sexually assaulting members of his congregation in Scotland.

Walter Masocha, of the Stirling-based Agape for All Nations Church, groped a young deaconess while he was supposed to be praying for her stomach complaint and put his hand down a schoolgirl's trousers saying he was trying to remove demons.

The deaconess, a 32-year-old mother-of-four, was also told Masocha — who was known as "The Prophet" — had been "trying to remove 'something' from her genitals".

The schoolgirl, then aged 15, was left in tears after Masocha groped her bottom claiming she had ants or demons in her pants.
Both were targeted between April 2012 and January 2014 at the 51-year-old's seven-bedroom home, Coseyneuk House near Stirling, where the Zimbabwe-born man ran his church.

After a six-day trial, the jury at Falkirk Sheriff Court found Masocha guilty of both charges.

Sheriff Kenneth McGowan ordered Masocha's name should be entered on the sex offenders register and deferred sentence, continuing bail until May 19 for reports, to include an assessment of the risk Masocha poses to other women and girls.

During the trial the schoolgirl, now 16, said she regarded Masocha as her "spiritual father" and, like many people in the church, called him "Dad".

She said in late 2013 she was with four other girls in an upstairs games room when Masocha came in. Giving evidence by video link she said she had been wearing "stretchy trousers".

She said: "He waved me over. He placed his hand round my lower back, and moved his hand down until he got to my underwear, and he sort of pinged my underwear.

"He repeatedly pinged my underwear, ran his hand down my bottom, and grabbed and pinched my bottom."

The pupil said she felt violated and later asked Masocha why he had done it. He replied that he had seen "demons and things that shouldn't be there" in her pants and he was clearing them away.

She added: "I just broke into tears because I thought I had been doing things wrong without realising. I felt like I had been bad."

In another incident, when the girl was 13 or 14, she said Masocha had been sitting down at his home, very close to her, advising her about school when he suddenly said: "You'll always be mine." He then kissed her on the lips.

She said at the time she was happy, because members of the church had been taught that anything they received from Masocha was a blessing from God, but now she felt "disgusted".

The deaconess said Masocha had hugged her "very intimately", caressing her back and kissing her round the neck, and saying "receive my love".

On another occasion said she had once gone to his office for prayer with a stomach complaint.

She said: "He said he was going to pray it away. He touched my tummy, then his hand went down my body, on to my private parts.

"I was so shocked. At that time I saw him as somebody who could never do any wrong, because that was what he used to teach us.

"He used to teach us his hugs were anointed."

She told her husband, a devoted member of the church from whom she has since separated, who replied: "The Prophet is seeing something in your genitals that needs to be removed, so he was removing that."

The woman, a trained nurse, later fled her matrimonial home with her children, and spoke about what had happened to her brother and others before starting an online blog to expose the activities of the church, which she called "a cult".

In other incidents, she described how as part of her involvement with the church, she had to undergo an all-night "deliverance" after her husband told her she had to be delivered from demons.

Shortly before she left the organisation for good, church members called an ambulance to a service she was attending in England and tried to get her sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Paramedics declined to act, concluding the call had been an "act of public humiliation".

Mascoha had denied the allegations.

Defence advocate John Scullion QC subjected the deaconess to five hours of cross-examination, claiming she was at the centre of a conspiracy to bring down Masocha and the church after he postponed publication of a church magazine which she had been working on.

After the verdicts, Mr Scullion said imprisonment was "not inevitable", and said he would reserve his submissions in mitigation to the sentencing hearing.

The court heard the Agape For All Nations Church had grown in less than eight years from a gathering in Masocha's living room to an international organisation with branches and more than 2000 members across the UK, USA, Canada, and Africa.

Masocha told the court he had been combining his full-time job with a part-time role as a pastor in a Pentescostal-style church, the Forward With Faith international ministry, which met in a community centre.

Then in 2007, he went on a prayer retreat to St Andrews and after a week of fasting he had "a divine visitation" instructing him to set up his own church and call it Agape, Greek for God's love.

Despite taking a master's degree and a PhD at the University of Strathclyde, as well as a full-time lectureship at the University of Stirling, Masocha soon turned to ministry full-time.

Masocha was earlier found not guilty of two other charges, alleging he engaged in sexually activity with another girl, then 13, by inducing her to massage his half-naked body with oils, after she retracted her claims.

Allegations he had acted in a similar way on various occasions towards her then 16-year-old sister had also been dropped by the prosecution before the trial began. stv