By Mary Taruvinga
HIGH Court Judge, Edith Mushore has urged the two warring factions of the AFM church in Zimbabwe (AFM) to find peace as they await a Supreme Court appeal filed by Cossam Chiyangwa who lost the leadership battle to Amon Madawo two weeks ago.
The ruling comes after a pastor aligned to Chiyangwa’s faction, Vitalis Panganai Makarichi who leads the congregation at one of AFM’s churches, Living Waters in Harare, was kicked out of the church premises during a service by members of Madawo’s camp, days after he was declared the legitimate leader of the church.
Makarichi rushed to court with an urgent chamber application seeking to stop John Gotora, Felix Nyabadza, Oliver Mutasa, Rangarirai Machemedze and Levi Hoja from interfering with business at Living Waters.
In the meantime, Madawo who has Aspher Madziyire, the church’s immediate past president’s blessings, also rushed to court with an urgent chamber application seeking to stop Chiyangwa and his followers from implementing resolutions passed at their National Workers Council and from calling for meetings with church members, among other things.
Mushore on Monday ruled that “the parties have to co-exist in peace and harmony until such a time that the appeal is heard at the Supreme Court.”
The Judge also urged lawyers for the parties to craft an order by consent, which shall regulate the conduct of the parties before disposition of the appeal at the Supreme Court.
Mushore said the order should be submitted by this Friday before she cautioned parties against violence but act in a manner befitting of Christians.
The recent events in the AFM have seen one of the biggest churches in the country making headlines over power fights.
After losing the High Court case, Chiyangwa petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the High Court ruling which barred him from taking over the leadership of the church.
High Court Judge Justice David Mangota had delivered a judgment in favour of Madawo who had petitioned the court seeking an order to bar Chiyangwa, Amon Chinyemba, Nathan Nhira and Shepherd Sebata from holding themselves out as office bearers of the AFMZ.
Justice Mangota also gave Bishop Madziyire’s camp the authority to use and control the church’s assets and instructed Chiyangwa and his followers to seek permission from Madziyire if they wanted to use the church’s property.
It is Chiyangwa’s argument that Mangota misdirected himself in the matter.
Chiyangwa further said the High Court consequently erred in failing to find that Madziyire and his co-applicants and their followers seceded from the AFMZ as from September 15, 2018, and therefore had no locus standi to challenge the proceedings of the church after that date.
Among other things, Chiangwa and his followers also want Bishop Madziyire and his group to return all the AFM assets in their possession and to stop using the church’s name when conducting their business.