By Mary Taruvinga
THE row over the control of the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) Church and its properties, pitting rival groups led by Bishop Aspher Madziyire and Reverend Cossam Chiangwa, rages on with congregants from one of the warring faction seeking to takeover assets purchased before the acrimonious split.
In 2019, the High Court declared Madziyire the bona-fide leader of the church ending a long standing dispute but Chiangwa, however, appealed at the Supreme Court over the decision.
The appeal is yet to be heard.
However, in a new twist of events, followers of the two leaders at one of the local assemblies are up in arms over construction of a church, with a pastor complaining that Madziyire’s followers cannot use material bought before the split to build the worshipping house.
Michael Chikono, a Chiangwa follower, has filed an application at the High Court arguing his contributions cannot be used to build the church in question.
Chikono complained the respondents including, Darlington Tembo, Mathius Mare, Patrick Sana, Kenneth Chindedza, Stanley Tsikasai, Wilson Savieri, Burusa Mandipezano and Shuvai Neruumba, who hold various positions in Madziyire’s camp, were using a High Court ruling in their favour disregarding the ruling was appealed against at the Supreme Court.
According to court papers, following the leadership wrangle the church has now separated into two camps at the Goodhope House of Prayer Assembly in Harare.
The two Goodhope factions alternate attending Sunday services.
However, prior to the split, the warring factions collectively contributed to the purchase the land and building material to construct the church.
Taking advantage of the judgment, the respondents started constructing the church using the construction material bought before the church split.
“Applicant had made the application in a bid to interdict the respondents from continuing with construction forthwith pending determination of the Supreme Court appeal.”
Chikono averred the respondents have no legal rights, but they argued the applicant who is a pastor had no loci standi to bring the application before the courts.
They argued Chikono was dismissed as a pastor by the church after the split.
“Office bearers are the president, secretary and the administrator,” they submitted in their response.
In a ruling, High Court judge, Justice Esther Muremba ruled in favour of the respondents. She said Chikono had no authority to sue the other party.
“A natural person who is suing in his individual capacity does not need a board resolution to sue,” ruled the judge.
“The fact that the applicant did not bring the proceedings in the name of the church makes the provisions of the church constitution inapplicable. This further shows that the applicant has no loci standi to bring the legal action that he brought.”
“Only the AFM church can bring proceedings in its name to protect its properties. I will thus dismiss this application with costs on higher scale,” ruled the judge.