EMBATTLED Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of Africa church president Reverend Tony Tshuma was last Friday granted some relief when the Bulawayo High Court interdicted three senior renegade pastors from appointing a new leader before the conclusion of two cases before the court.
Reverends Clement Nyathi, Joseph Matongo and James Morris had reportedly appointed Nyathi as the church’s new president and overseer in a move that was approved by the church’s Harare branch on July 20.
Tshuma through his lawyer Walter Nyabadza filed an urgent High Court chamber application seeking an order barring the three from taking over his position.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha upheld the application and ruled that pending the finalisation of the other court cases involving Tshuma and the church, the three pastors must stop interfering with Tshuma’s position.
Nyathi is cited as the first respondent in the case while Matongo and Morris are the second and third respondents respectively.
Justice Kamocha ruled that the three pastors were interdicted from interfering in any manner whatsoever, whether directly or indirectly, with church operations and Tshuma’s duties.
In his founding affidavit, Tshuma submitted that he was the president and overseer of the church and was baffled by the three pastors’ claims that he was illegitimate.
“They averred that I had imposed myself as the leader of the church through coercive and fraudulent means,” he submitted.
“This was the first time to hear such allegations coming from the respondents or any member of the church since my ordination in May 2008. Presently the application for a declaratur under cover of case number HC 580/14 was partly heard on June 27 before judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo at Bulawayo.
“The judge reserved judgment on the preliminary points that were raised and argued by the respondents’ counsel.”
Tshuma said they were still awaiting the outcome of the court hearing.
“At the same time, the respondents have gone out on a deliberate and massive crusade to all church branches sowing seeds of discord and confusion among the church’s adherence,” Tshuma submitted.
“They have encouraged members, especially the youths, to rebel against the leadership of the church and its headquarters in Bulawayo.”
He said several branches of the church had severed ties with the mother church at the headquarters due to the respondents’ destructive and disruptive campaigns of secession.
Tshuma submitted that the three also met youths in Alaska, Chinhoyi, on July 11 and 13 where they announced that Nyathi was the leader of the church.
He said on July 22, the three were at the Harare and Kwekwe branches where they also announced the new developments and they had plans to make an announcement in Bulawayo on August 8 and 12.
Tshuma said the three pastors plannned to hold a so-called church general assembly in Gokwe.
“The respondents’ preposterous and bizarre actions and antics are causing irreparable damage to the image of the church and are bringing the church’s name into disrepute,” he said. “They are also causing immense confusion within the church in Zimbabwe and abroad.”
The church has been plagued by disaffection caused by alleged ethnic wars between Ndebele-speaking worshippers and their Shona-speaking counterparts, an allegation Tshuma’s group has dismissed in the past.