By Mary Taruvinga
HIGH Court judge Justice Esther Muremba has brought to an end the longstanding leadership wrangle in Mugodhi Apostolic Faith Church.
The church was founded by the Tadewu Mugodhi.
However, following his death in 2019, his sons have been at loggerheads with one Tonny Sigauke who claims that he was the rightful successor of Mugodhi according to the church’s constitution.
But the judge ruled Sigauke does not have authority to represent the church.
“The issue of locus standi in the circumstances of the parties had already been determined by this court in case no. HC6734/19. This was an urgent chamber application between the parties. This court found that Sigauke was authorised to bring the application on behalf of the applicant,” she said.
“However, the judgment was later overturned by the Supreme Court. In view of the foregoing, I make a finding that the applicant has no locus standi to bring the present application. In the result, it is ordered that the application is dismissed.”
In 2019, Sigauke dragged the late Mugodhi’s son Washington to court for clinging on to the throne against the church’s constitution.
Washington is being accused of imposing himself as the bishop of the church also against a court order.
Sigauke also filed another application stating that Aaron Munodawafa was the substantive bishop of the church with him as the deputy.
He said Washington was not a vice bishop at the time of his purported appointment, neither was he a member of the board of ministries nor the most senior member of the church.
Sigauke said Washington was only a junior pastor in the church, and it is impossible for him to be appointed bishop in terms of the constitution.
“Succession of the leadership is not hereditary; it is governed by a constitution,” he told the court.
Mugodhi was diagnosed with a terminal illness leading to his death in October 2019.
While on the sickbed, Mugodhi pronounced his son as the bishop during a meeting.
However, Sigauke said this was unlawful and proceeded to approach the courts challenging the move.
The High Court upheld his application with Washington’s appointment declared null and void.
Washington was also stopped from making any other appointments.
This prompted Washington and his brothers to appeal against the decision through the Supreme Court.
The counter appeal succeeded on a technicality after it was noted that the High Court had erroneously admitted evidence filed in Shona.
During a national general conference that followed on February 20 this year, it was resolved that Munodawafa as the senior bishop would become the substantive church leader with Sigauke as his vice.
The court heard Sigauke became the acting bishop since Munodawafa is now 105 years old and, therefore, incapacitated to carry out church functions.
However, in the same month during Mugodhi’s memorial service, Washington imposed himself to the position of church leaders continued holding the office to date.
Sigauke had complained that Washington had caused a split in the church and affected the congregants’ right to worship resulting in him mounting the present application which was shot down by Justice Muremba.