HIGH-FLYING interdenominational gospel outfit, Zimpraise, presents a picture of a well-managed choir, with its house in order, but a Facebook post by a former member, Joel Chiweda, earlier this week revealed the picture behind the scenes was completely different.
In a post responding to Evan Mawarire’s #ThisFlag, Chiweda — now based in the United States — claimed there was prevalent abuse of members under the leadership of the group’s founder (name withheld). “I share the pain and passion of Pastor Evan Mawarire not only because I’m a citizen of Zimbabwe, but I was part of an organisation, a gospel group, known as Zimpraise, which is spiritually and morally corrupt, where our leader would squander money on girls and expensive clothes,” he wrote.
In a follow-up interview with NewsDay Weekender, Chiweda said he left the group in 2014 in protest over the named founder’s conduct and treatment of band members after the latter had snapped at him, “You’re useless and we can replace you”.
He said the reason he posted the rant on the social networking site was so that he could nudge others to speak out.
“You see, when I posted this, it was to provoke others to speak out wherever they are feeling oppressed, and there’s more of his doings that the public need to know,” he said.
Another ex-member took up the challenge and explained how corruption and mismanagement were rampant in the group and even accused the founder, of dating several female members of the group (names supplied) although he has vehemently denied the allegations.
One of the group’s founder members, top producer, Macdonald “McDee” Chidavaenzi, reportedly left the group in 2012, amid indications he was not happy with the direction Zimpraise was taking.
Two years ago, the choir also lost some key members, among them Marbel Madondo, Primrose Njewa, Lloyd Tevedzai, Kuda Mutsvene and Jaqueline Maopandu for samilar reasons, insiders claim.
According to Chiweda, when Zimpraise toured the United States, some members remained behind in search of greener pastures and they were accused of not being loyal to the group.
An ex-member of the group, who has since carved his own fruitful solo career, told NewsDay Weekender that he left last year after it emerged that following their performance in the United Kingdom, the founder begged the congregants of the churches, were the outfit performed, to provide accommodation for the group’s members, while he was comfortably ensconced in a hotel suite.
Insiders also said, although the churches where they performed, organised transport fares for them, the founder was reportedly given $10 000 by a local insurance company for the group’s transport.
“When we flew from the United Kingdom to South Africa, the founder instructed us to board a bus from South Africa to Zimbabwe, while his girlfriend, at that time, and a lead singer, took a flight.
The founder was not answering his phone when efforts were made to reach him and he did not respond to text messages sent to him, while Israel Sebenzo, an official with the group, said he could not comment.
“I don’t have the capacity to comment. You should get hold of the director,” he said. newsday