Vodacom South Africa has announced a partnership with the Shembe church to distribute the telecommunications company's products and services to the church's members.

The "mutually beneficial relationship", as Vodacom announced, was signed between Vodacom and the Shembe Family Trust which handles the affairs of the Nazareth Baptist Church - better known as the Shembe church.

According to Vodacom representative George Mendes, one of the church's main functions would be to distribute Vodacom products and services. "Of course those benefits will then flow through to church members. It's a mutually beneficial relationship," he said.

The church has about 6.7 million members, of which about 2.4 million are Vodacom subscribers. Two factions have emerged, fighting over who the "real" Shembe church is following the passing of its founder, Inkosi Velani Shembe, in 2011. That said, the infighting doesn't seem to have affected the signing of the deal with Vodacom as both factions are in agreement with it.

โ€œI went through a difficult time trying to get all the factions to work together, but because the family is the unifying structure, we were able to put our differences aside and work together. The church might be divided, but the family remains intact. The deal will benefit both the family and church members,โ€ said Landile Shembe, representative of the Shembe Family Trust.

No details about the agreement were revealed by either party.

Cover Image: Members of the Nazareth Baptist Church, iBandla lika Shembe arrive for the 2016 National Human Rights Day commemoration | Government of South Africa

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