JOSEPH TSHUMA, the son of under-fire Apostolic Faith Mission Church (AFM) of Africa International at Lobengula in Bulawayo, reverend Tony Tshuma, has dismissed allegations that he is using Zanu PF connections to assist his father remain at the helm of the church.
Joseph said these were just wild claims being made by people hell-bent on damaging him and his father’s reputation. Some church members have accused the reverend and his son of conspiring to grab the church-owned Lydead Range Farm in Matabeleland South and Joseph of using his Zanu PF membership to allegedly threaten those opposed to his father’s continued leadership of the church.
The accusations emerged recently when church members Claudius Manamela, Mike Moyo, Khawulani Sibanda and Wonder Chigwende, among others, accused Tshuma and 40 of his supporters of threatening church members questioning the legitimacy of the reverend’s role as the church’s overseer with either death or expulsion.
The squabbles allegedly started in February when members were allegedly blocked from entering the church’s premises. They reported the matter to the Njube police and went to court last week seeking a protection order against Tshuma and his supporters.
However, Joseph rubbished these allegations on Tuesday as a mere smear tactic to damage his image and that of his father.
“That is not true. The farm is not even in Gwanda, but in Mangwe and is fully owned by the church,” he said. “I can show you the offer letters if you want. It is in the name of the church. Those people are just trying to come up with a way of damaging my image and that of my father.
“The farm is currently used by church members who volunteered to work for God out there and I last went there in 2009. Since then I have never set foot there.”
Joseph said there were no Tshuma relatives at the farm, but only church members. He admitted belonging to Zanu PF saying there were members from other political parties in the church and that worshiping God had nothing to do with politics.
“I never put on my party regalia in church. I have never made political slogans there. Our slogans in church are ‘amen hallelujah’ only,” he said.
He also denied that any church member had been denied access to the church saying AFM had an open door policy.
“No one can be blocked from attending church. The church was built for both sinners and the righteous. In fact, we want those who are lost like (choir master Mike) Moyo to come and repent,” he said.
“As for who ordains people in church, it is the prerogative of the overseer and pastors to give people duties. In fact, when he was appointed by Tshuma whom he now says is wrong, did he go to newspapers?”
Moyo told Southern Eye on Monday that he was being barred from entering the church or leading the choir after being labelled a rebel and supporting calls for Tshuma to be removed as overseer.
Joseph said if anyone destabilised the church, members were bound to react. “Those people are rubble rousers who are bent on destroying the church and they seriously need prayers,” he said.
“Since our church was founded by (the late Freedom) Sengwayo who anointed Sibanda before he passed away, no one challenged overseers. This is the first time.
“Our fight now is through prayer and God will vindicate us. We are even praying for those who are doing this. We do not want them to miss heaven.”
Tshuma’s lawyer Walter Nyabadza also concurred with Joseph saying Moyo was appointed by the overseer as a choir master and reports to him.
“The choir belongs to the overseer and president of the church. Moyo was appointed by him as a choir master and he reports to him,” he said. “He has been doing that for the past seven years now. If he now fights the overseer and says he no longer recognises him, he has automatically expelled himself.”
Nyabadza said the group that is unhappy with the leadership has made it clear that it no longer recognised the leader and the church’s governing bodies which are the board of trustees and council of elders.