Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
THE battle to control the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe (AFM) continues, with the top leadership from rival camps taking the fight to the courts following a dispute over the use of the church’s name.
AFM, one of the biggest and oldest Pentecostal churches in the country, was in 2018 ripped apart with the formation of two warring factions — one led by the church’s former general-secretary Reverend Amon Dubie Madawo and another by Rev Cossam Chiangwa, the church’s former deputy president.
The group which sympathises with the leadership of a faction aligned to Rev Chiangwa’s camp has approached the High Court seeking an order interdicting their rivals from using the registered name of the church.
The church’s most senior retired president, Dr Enos Manyika, through his lawyers Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Reverends Madawo, Clever Mupakaidza, Brian Tembo, Christopher Chemhuru and the AFM in Zimbabwe as respondents.
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 CF220/01.
“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.
“The respondents do not have neither the blessings nor authority of the church to use its name or any of its symbols. They have already indicated on oath that they do not associate or align themselves with the registered constitution of the church.”
Dr Manyika wants an order directing their rivals to stop using the church name and symbols, arguing that it was their registered entity.
“The process of registration is done so as to protect a registered entity from having its name used unlawfully just like in this case. Registration is meant to preserve one’s name, status and identity and it is on this basis that we seek an order directing the respondents to stop using our name to further their agenda,” he said.
The AFM fight has allegedly mainly centred on former president Dr Aspher Madziyire’s firm hold to office for 15 years while the Rev Chiangwa group has been pushing for fresh elections to choose new leaders.
The tiff between the two led to divisions in the church with congregants taking sides with their preferred leaders.
The divisions have also cascaded to the lower ranks of the church, with even the smallest branches in Bulawayo and Harare engaging in petty fights. — @mashnets