By Our Reporters
Pastor Joseph Serwadda, who prefers being called the Presiding Apostle of Born Again Faith Federation (BAFFE), has responded to the growing number of pastors critical of his leadership style by saying he has no office or leadership position to hand over to any of them. Speaking on his Dream TV Sunday morning program, the much-criticized Serwadda showed his disgust while responding to a caller who asked why he doesn’t hand over the leadership as a way of disarming his critics. A tough-talking Serwadda responded in agreement with the caller and pitied such critics “because I have no office to hand over to anyone.” He said the only people with moral authority to criticize him are pastors who subscribe to his BAFFE “but they are all happy and none of them is panicking or complaining about anything.” Serwadda was speaking against a clear background of pastors ganging up on him with radicals like PS Joseph Kabuleta and Aloysius Bugingo saying he was desperate to ride on Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo’s much disputed proposed policy framework to get means to impose himself on the Born Again Christians as their leader. Kabuleta specifically said last week while appearing on Bugingo’s popular Emisingi program that Serwadda had been deserted by the Holy Spirit and Christians no longer spontaneously believe in him as a spiritual leader. “That is why he needs Lokodo’s law to continue forcing himself on the Balokole as their leaders because they clearly don’t believe in him anymore,” said Kabuleta who went as far as claiming that Ps Serwadda was hostile to others like National Fellowship of Born Again Churches’ Joshua Lwere getting admitted into Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) because there are several grants the constituent member organizations are destined to get annually.
Bugingo and Kabuleta’s outspokenness has gradually inspired many hitherto timid Born Again Pastors to stand up and denounce Serwadda’s BAFFE like never before. Indeed anti-Serwadda meetings have been held at Imperial Royale in Kampala and Ndejje University in Luwero to discuss strategy on how to deflate Serwadda. The Royale meetings have mostly been convened by Ps David Kigganda who like Bugingo (of Salt Media) has been using his Kingdom media to demonize Serwadda who many accuse of seeking to use Lokodo’s policy to gain dominion and control over the Born Again Movement in Uganda. The Ndejje meetings, mostly attended by upcountry pastors, have been convened by Ps Joshua Lwere who is a key rival to Serwadda who recently accused his NFBAC of not operating very transparently in the way they charge membership fees on their member churches. At both venues, Pastors have vehemently denounced Serwadda with some vowing to tackle him physically should he dare turn up for such meetings. They mostly loathe him because he supported the new Lokodo policy requiring deeper financial accountability and a minimum of a diploma in theology for whoever wants to be a pastor in Uganda. “I personally believe in being a pastor by calling as opposed to being one by profession,” Bugingo told his vast congregation at Canaan Land (headquarters of his HPMI) at Makerere Kikoni during the Sunday service. Serwadda says this is why Pastors hate him to the extent that there were plans to humiliate him at the Ndejje and Royale meetings had he dared attend. He bragged during his Sunday TV program together with his protégé Apostle Charles Tumwine that he always has his spies at these meetings and gets to know everything. He said instead of bashing him, the Pastors should come to him for advice and guidance on how to lobby government to allow them more time to reorganize and get the diploma in theology. “I don’t know why people don’t want to study. These are just two years; three years you get the degree in theology and five years you get a PhD,” Serwadda said.
COWS HIS CALLERS
During the same TV program, Serwadda and Tumwine threatened those calling in by insisting each caller must disclose their full identity, the pastor and church where they fellowship from. Tumwine assured those calling in that should anyone utter staff that criticizes the government or the person of Ps Serwadda, the state would be guided on where to find them to pay for their sins. This was after a caller urged Serwadda to use his seniority and reconcile with other pastors to avoid the President (who the caller called divisive) from getting involved. Serwadda and Tumwine intimidatingly asked if the caller was ready to substantiate his claims in case security came for him. Serwadda, who Bugingo has been exposing on his TV for belittling start up Born Again Churches, also used the program to defend Manjiya MP JB Nambeshe whose proposed legislation (aimed at controlling religious groups) was resoundingly rejected and defeated by MPs last week on the floor. He actually brought Nambeshe online and gave him time to justify his proposal. Nambeshe vehemently denied earlier claims by the anti-Serwadda lobby that he was a proxy for the big man from Victory Church Ndeeba. As Serwadda (who Lokodo denounced again a few days ago during another Lwere meeting in Ndejje) urged him on, Nambeshe explained he is a staunch Born Again Christian fellowshipping at three churches including Crystal Church back home in Bududa for which he serves as an elder. He said his other home is in Bugembe and whenever there, he fellowships with Jinja Deliverance Church where his pastors are Moses Kibunika and Mulokole Kayizi. In Kampala, Nambeshe who was gagged by the gathering at the latest Royale meeting where he came with Lokodo, said he prays with Ps Okoth’s Church in Bunamwaya. Speaking from Kakamega in Kenya, Nambeshe said he has never met Serwadda and this was the first time he was speaking to him. He said what he packaged and presented in Parliament were the views of his pastors at the three churches gathered for more than three years. Serwadda thanked Nambeshe for speaking on his program. Serwadda said Nambeshe was doing the right thing seeking to consolidate the provisions of Trusteeship Act, NGO Act and the Church of England (Trustees & Registration) Act into one piece of legislation regulating religious denominations. Serwadda Praised himself for being far sighted adding that the views he is espousing now will only be understood and appreciated by some after 50 years. He gave the example of something that happened in 1985: back then, he said, an old man who fathered Mayanja Nkangi sent Sam Mukasa Biyinzika (the poultry tycoon who married his daughter) offering to sell his prime piece of land in Katwe on the road behind Quality Chemicals as you go towards Lubiri-to the church. “He asked for Shs400,000 to sell to us as a church his land near Sapoba in Katwe. That was a lot of money coming to close to Shs4bn in today’s terms. We sat in a meeting with late Balabyekubo and others. We had several meetings and all of them said we can’t bother with such money and if we are to get it, let’s invest it in more crusades for people to come to salvation. I told them we need this land since Mzee had even accepted installments. He was patient with us but all of them refused saying after all Jesus Christ our savior was coming in 15 years from now. They said the world would end in the year 2000 and what will profit us was to save as many souls through crusades as we could. I felt very bad and I feel even worse each time I drive through that place and look at the gold we missed,” Serwadda said adding that just like in the case of the Katwe land, the prudence of his views today will only be appreciated many years later. He tactfully didn’t respond to the angry outbursts Lokodo made denouncing him at the Ndejje meeting. Saying there was nothing for majority churches to worry about Lokodo’s moves, Serwadda said the only groups that should worry in case Lokodo succeeds include independent churches like Panorama, Platform, Alliance and The Forum. He insisted the Lokodo he knows can only retreat and can’t give up for good. He said the retreat was because of the manner in which pastors have ganged up on him but it’s a question of time before he revisits his proposed policy. This is something similar to what Ps Bugingo said on Misingi last week insisting Lokodo wasn’t done as yet.
FRAUD IN THE CHURCH
Serwadda said some pastors are too small to be consulted by Lokodo and also disputed the way many churches are doing accountability to their members. “Some pastors just come and announce we collected so much last Sunday without giving members chance to verify that information. Real accountability means presenting audited books of accounts and not just declaring to the church what you feel like because that remains fraud as long as you declare what you are comfortable telling them without any means to verify it,” Tumwine said as Serwadda nodded in approval. Serwadda said he was glad some churches had already felt his influence when they tried to open bank accounts and commercial banks asked them to go to him and return with BAFFE recommendation letter as a requirement for account opening. “Some churches can’t even conduct weddings until they produce my signature. Their marriages won’t be recognized until they comply,” Serwadda braggingly said as he concurred with Tumwine to ensure callers critical of him didn’t have the opportunity to rant. Tumwine said the reason many pastors are likely to give fake accountability and get away with it is because most Balokoles are “too gullible” and are only interested in being prayed for to get miracles and are never interested in such things like verifying the authenticity of the accountability given by their pastors.
Serwadda also spoke out on the illuminati allegations saying in Uganda, nobody can afford its membership. He said illuminati is for guys who are very rich and Uganda is too small to attract the attention of their recruitment agents. He said he knows two African presidents who offered $60m each to become members but the illuminati bosses in the US refused recruiting them saying African leaders are too poor. He wondered why Pastors are hostile to being registered “yet even a simcard which costs only Shs1500 is also registered.” Emphasizing that he isn’t looking for any leadership, Serwadda said: “I’m already a boss and I’m not looking for leadership because I’m one already. I have been Born Again since 1975 and so I’m a very satisfied a person with everything in life. I’m already the boss of the Born Again Faith [BAFFE] and those I lead are comfortable and none of them is panicking like those other pastors.” Serwadda likened his farsightedness to Galileo who was hanged for discovering the earth was rotating and the famous Buganda kingdom leader Nsibirwa who was killed for donating land for the establishment of Makerere University many years ago.