Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
THE Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) in Zimbabwe’s founding president, Dr Enos Manyika has lost his legal battle in which he sought an order barring the current leadership from using the church’s registered name.
The battle to control AFM started in 2018, resulting in the emergence of two rival camps, one led by Reverend Amon Dubie Madawo and the other by Rev Cossam Chiangwa who was the church’s former deputy president.
The dispute between the two camps spilled into the Supreme Court after a group led by Rev Chiangwa filed an appeal against a High Court order which gave Rev Madawo’s faction blessings to lead the church.
Rev Madawo’s camp recently won the legal battle after the Supreme Court upheld a previous High Court decision and agreed that a 2018 meeting which purported to change the leadership was void.
Dr Manyika, through his lawyers Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order interdicting the Rev Madawo faction from using the registered name of the church, arguing that it has caused the creation of a parallel constitution, which is separate from the one registered and filed with Registrar of Deeds.
In papers before the court, Reverends Madawo, Clever Mupakaidza, Brian Tembo, Christopher Chemhuru, AFM in Zimbabwe and the Registrar of Deeds were cited as respondents.
Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Christopher Dube-Banda dismissing Dr Manyika’s application, saying it was not urgent.
“In the result, the point in limine on urgency is upheld. This application is not urgent and is removed from the roll of urgent matters,” ruled the judge.
Justice Dube-Banda ordered Dr Manyika to pay the legal costs incurred by the respondents.
“The applicant is the person behind the litigation. This is one of the cases where this court will not hesitate to exercise its discretion in awarding costs on a legal practitioner and client scale. The costs of this application to be borne by the applicant in his personal capacity on a legal practitioner and client scale,” he said.
Justice Dube-Banda ruled that Dr Manyika was merely trying to hoodwink the court and challenge the decision of the Supreme Court hiding under the name of the church.
“In casu, it is clear that the applicant (Dr Manyika) is conducting his own litigation masquerading as the church. He has no authority from the church to institute these proceedings. In fact, he is aware of the High Court and Supreme Court judgments in respect of this dispute, which has since been resolved by the courts,” said Justice Dube-Banda.
“A litigant cannot be permitted to recycle the same dispute before the court. This court cannot countenance such conduct because once the Supreme Court has spoken, a litigant cannot be permitted to bring the same issue, in whatever name, before this court.”
In his founding affidavit, Dr Manyika said he was AFM’s founding president who spearheaded the registration of the church in 2001 under registration number CF221/01.
“I am a representative of the church and also its founding president who caused the registration of the AFM in 2001. It has come to my understanding and knowledge that the respondents are using the registered name of the church and causing the creation of a parallel constitution, which is separate and alien to the one registered and filed with the Registrar of Companies,” he said.
Dr Manyika said the respondents do not have neither the blessings nor authority of the church to use its name or any of its symbols.
“It is on this basis that I seek an order directing the respondents to stop using the church’s name to further their agenda. They have various other names available to them, and not the AFM in Zimbabwe name,” he said.
Dr Manyika argued that the decision of the Supreme Court has no bearing or effect on the church.
The applicant said he and the church were not party to the dispute between Rev Chiangwa and the respondents in his application.
He said the constitutions used by Reverends Madawo, Mupakaidza, Tembo and Chemhuru are different from the one that was registered by the AFM in Zimbabwe.
Dr Manyika said the respondents have already indicated on oath that they do not associate or align themselves with the registered constitution of the church.
“The issue does not negate or reverse the registration status of the church and further it does not nullify the registration status of the church. There is no nexus between the unregistered AFM church and the applicant. This is evident when one looks at the constitutions of the AFM in Zimbabwe and the respondents,” he said.
“I submit that the requirements of a temporary interdict against the respondents against the use of the registered name of the AFM in Zimbabwe pending finalisation of case number HC 453/20.”
Dr Manyika said by using the name “AFM in Zimbabwe” some people may be misled into believing that they are dealing with the registered church.
Rev Chiangwa’s camp had earlier approached the same court seeking an order prohibiting Rev Madawo and his faction from using the church’s registered name.
The row over control of the church and its assets was sparked by the church’s council meeting held at Rufaro, Masvingo in 2018.
The meeting, as part of its resolutions, passed a vote of no confidence on the president of the church. The results of the council meeting saw leaders of both factions taking the matter to court. — @mashnets