Maputo - Mozambican Labour Minister Helena Taipo has intervened personally to force a Brazilian evangelical sect, the Igreja Mundial do Poder de Deus (World Church of the Power of God), to pay compensation to two Mozambican pastors who were unjustly sacked.
According to a report in Monday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", the two Mozambicans say they were sacked after they complained that they were discriminated against, and that Brazilian pastors received more favourable treatment.
They claim that this protest cost them their jobs and that, although they had worked for the Mozambican branch of the church for several years, they were not offered any redundancy pay at all.
The two pastors took their case to the Ministry of Justice (responsible for registering churches and other religious institutions) and to the Ministry of Labour. Taipo herself visited the Maputo headquarters of the church on Friday, and, after speaking to its Brazilian management, guaranteed that the two pastors would receive their compensation.
Furthermore, she confirmed the complaints of gross differences in the wages paid to Brazilian and to Mozambican pastors, and pledged that this discrimination would be swept away. "Equal pay for equal work", she told reporters.
She also found that, although the church deducts social security contributions from the wages of its employees, it does not channel them to the National Social Security Institute (INSS). It has also not signed any wok contracts with its employees. For these violations of Mozambican legislation, the church will be fined, Taipo promised.
The Brazilian church management said the church is willing to correct all the irregularities uncovered by the Minister - but flatly denied one of her main findings, namely the wage differential between Mozambicans and Brazilians doing the same job. It even claimed there are some Mozambicans earning more than Brazilian pastors.
The World Church of the Power of God is a breakaway from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD), founded by a dissident IURD bishop, Valdemiro Santiago. Like the IURD it embraces "the gospel of prosperity", whereby credulous believers are told that, in exchange for their faith and their monetary contributions to the church, their God will provide them with wealth, cure their diseases, and bestow happiness on them. As a result, the church grows rich and there is no noticeable improvement in the conditions of its worshippers.
Like the IURD, the World Church promises all manner of impossible miracles. It boasts miraculous cures, none of which are attested to by any doctors, but which keep the money from the gullible flowing into the church coffers.