RULING on the application for a peace order by five disgruntled members of the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of Africa against overseer and president Reverend Tony Tshuma (90) and 40 others, was on Thursday further deferred by the Western Commonage Court magistrate Tancy Dube.
In deferring the ruling on the case, Dube said the Bulawayo High Court ruled in favour of the applicants in a case in which Reverend Clement Nyathi and other disgruntled church ministers sought an order compelling Tshuma and his group not to demote or expel members opposed to him.
She said it would be illogical for her in the lower court to make another ruling on a similar case.
Claudious Manamela, Nkathazo Svutire, Michael Moyo, Misheck Mupakati and Enock Marume were seeking an order compelling Tshuma and his group to uphold peace and desist from violence against them.
In the High Court case, Nyathi and other disgruntled church ministers filed an application challenging Tshuma’s authority, accusing him of having imposed himself as head of the flock and seeking to block him from demoting or firing them from the church.
After hearing the arguments of both parties last week on Tuesday, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva first reserved judgment, but subsequently delivered a ruling barring Tshuma and his ministers from making church decisions which involve disputes before the court.
Dube also said there were two other High Court cases, HC NO 580/14 in which Tshuma and his group are seeking an order to force the disgruntled group and other church ministers to sign minutes of a meeting which was held on February 2014 to review the founding constitution of 1986.
The 1986 constitution was crafted when the group of leaders and other followers split from the Pelandaba-based church to form their Lobengula headquartered church.
According to the disgruntled group, in the February 8 meeting, Tshuma reportedly set up a 28-member church council and an 18-member council of elders while being advised by his lawyer Walter Nyabadza on how to craft the new constitution.
The group is disputing the new constitution and the case is pending in the High Court.
The five peace order applicants have a pending application HC 704/14 in the High Court in which they are seeking the eviction of Tshuma from the church offices and house pending an audit of church properties.
Dube said since there were two applications pending at the High Court, one made by Tshuma and the other made by the disgruntled group, she had to wait for the outcomes of the two applications.
She deferred the ruling on the peace order indefinitely.
In their submissions, disgruntled members indicated that it was paramount that they be granted an order compelling Tshuma and his faction to stop harassing or perpetuating violence against them.
The peace order applicants said they were happy with the magistrate’s remarks and ruling made by the High Court recently.
“We are happy about what she said because we have already won the case in the High Court,” said Moyo.