High Court denounces AFM fights; puts end to property ownership wrangle

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE High Court has expressed concern over the unending feud between Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) and the rival splinter group led by Cossam Chiangwa.

Justice David Mangota of the Harare High Court last Friday said the situation was now embarrassing, considering how famous the AFM brand is.

The judge has, however, put to an end a fight over assets by the two factions, stating that Chiangwa should start accumulating his faction’s property because he chose to move on.

Mangota said it was disturbing that the church now spends more time in court than in prayers.

The judge said this while ruling in a latest matter in which AFM, led by Amon Madawo, sued its rival over holding a church conference at a church in Waterfalls.

Another judgement on the matter was delivered by Justice Happious Zhou, who justified the use of the church premises by the rival faction.

Zhou had ruled that Madawo was made aware of a planned conference, but took no action until the rival faction pitched a tent at the church premises.

Madawo again rushed to court to challenge the decision.

Zhou said the church should make prayers a priority.

Reverend Cossum Chiangwa

“Until May 28, 2021 when the Supreme Court made its determination under SC67/21, causing AFM and the first respondent to go their own separate ways, the two organs of faithful worshipped together, fellowshipped together and prayed together as one complete whole in an admirable mark of unity of purpose, profession of one faith and a sustained intent to spread the word of God Almighty and reap many souls into, or for, His Kingdom,” said the judge.

“Somewhere, somewhat between the two centres of power arising from circumstances which are out of the ordinary, Madawo stopped seeing eye-to-eye with the first respondent.

“A seed of hatred was sewn between them. They are now not at church praying together as they used to do. They are now more in, than out of, court. They are now at each other’s throat in a very shameful manner which defies description.”

Madawo was challenging faction members including Chiangwa’s deputy Amon Nyika Chifamba, Alex Mwanza, Caesar Magwentshu, Dennis Mutungi, Henry Notisi, Gideon Choto and Tapiwa Masamba.

In the latest case, Justice Mangota said Chiangwa should grow up.

“The moment the respondent broke away from the applicant to form their own church, as they did after the Supreme Court judgment SC 67/21, whatever they did with the applicant as one church remains with the latter.

“This principle of the law is evident from the statement which is to the effect that a member of the club who breaks away from the club does not take away with him items of the club.

“He acquires his own items. He formulates new rules for his new club and conscripts persons into the new club,” read the judgement.

“The applicant states, correctly so, that the law allows for the grant of a final relief pursuant to an urgent chamber application, where a clear right is established. I agree.

“The applicant proved its case on a balance of probabilities. The respondents failed to controvert the evidence of the applicant in its material respects. The application is, in the result, granted as prayed.”

The judge said Chiangwa’s continued use of AFM’s property was illegal.

“The respondents cannot have their cake and eat it. They cannot break away from the applicant and pretend to want to continue to enjoy the property of the applicant,” he said.

“They are either with the applicant, in which case they are allowed to partake of the joys and sorrows of the latter, or they have moved on, in which case they cannot enjoy the advantages which the law extended to the applicant.

“Their intended continuous use of the property of the applicant, no doubt, constitutes irreparable harm to the applicant. They have no legal or other right to continue to use the applicant’s premises.

“Their threat to interfere with the applicant’s possession as well as ownership, without due regard to due process, should always be frowned upon. No one should be allowed to take the law into his own hands. Self-help remains an unwelcome law of the forests, in terms of which civilised man cannot partake of.”