THE fighting for the control of the Apostolic Faith Mission Church (AFM) of Africa International that erupted in Bulawayo early this month have spread to Kwekwe.
Yesterday the church’s resident Mbizo pastor Clement Nyathi won a peace order against a group linked to AFM overseer Tony Tshuma.Kwekwe provincial magistrate Vimbai Mutukwa issued the peace order against church members led by Douglas Mombeshora, James Madzonga, Tenga Mlalazi and a Paradza barring them from interfering with Nyathi’s work.
Nyathi had asked the court to issue the order to stop them from interfering with his work accusing the group of plotting to oust him.
“On March 2, the respondents connived and interrupted the church service which I was conducting at the Mbizo church where I am resident pastor. They attacked my person in front of the congregation and tried to block me from making announcements which I am entitled to make as resident pastor,” Nyathi submitted in his founding affidavit.
The four opposed the application saying they were members of the church and held positions within AFM which entitled them to be consulted before pronouncements were made in the church.
However, Nyathi insisted that he had no obligation to consult the four and alleged that the respondents were now causing disturbances, especially during his church services.
He argued that their interference was likely to trigger violence.
“On April 6, the respondents again caused a stir in the church when they attempted to conduct a parallel church service at the same time with my service. The other church members almost turned violent before I intervened,” Nyathi told the court.
The magistrate ruled that Nyathi as the resident pastor had the right to conduct church services without interference by the four respondents.
Squabbles in the AFM first started at the church’s headquarters in Lobengula, Bulawayo and spilled into the courts after being triggered by a power struggle and alleged tribalism.
Some disgruntled members applied for a protection order against Tshuma and 40 others accusing them of unleashing violence against those opposed to the church leader.
The disillusioned group comprising more than 50 members in Bulawayo accused Tshuma of fraudulently taking over the reins of the church in 2008 and abusing church funds.
They also accused Tshuma’s son Joseph of using his Zanu PF connections to assist his father remain at the helm of the church by threatening those opposed to his continued leadership. However, Joseph dismissed these allegations saying they were just wild claims being made by people hell-bent on damaging him and his father’s reputation.
He also refuted claims that any church member had been denied access to the church saying AFM had an open door policy. Joseph said his father as the overseer had the prerogative to appoint and remove anyone from a church position.