Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of Africa church president and overseer Tony Tshuma and a church official Elliot Ncube, have been stripped of their positions and interdicted from using church premises.
BY SILAS NKALA
This was after AFM reverends Clement Nyathi, Fidelis Morris, Joseph Matongo, Abel Hele Mephulangogaja and Phibion Tagarira Manyowa filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order barring the two from using or visiting church facilities on the grounds they were not leaders of the church as they purported to be.
High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva granted the application.
“The first and second respondents are barred from presenting or purporting to act as the leaders of the sixth applicant (AFM) either to the sixth applicant’s members or to members of the public,” Takuva ruled.
“The first and second respondents are ordered to release and return the control of the sixth applicant’s affairs and activities into the first to fifth applicants forthwith. The respondents are ordered to pay costs of suit on a client-attorney scale.”
The background of the case is that the applicants are members of the board of trustees for the church. Tshuma used to be a member before he was expelled on allegations of misconduct.
After Tshuma was notified of his ouster, he allegedly teamed up with Ncube to disrupt the smooth administration of the church. The church approached the courts in November last year seeking an order interdicting the two from interfering with church operations, but Tshuma and Ncube filed a notice of opposition.
Nyathi and co-applicants raised a point in limine (preventive order) that Tshuma and Ncube had not complied with rules of the court by filing opposing affidavit outside set time limits.
Court papers show that Tshuma and Ncube, represented by advocate Lucas Nkomo, filed a notice of opposition without attaching an opposing affidavit on December 5. On December 29 they again filed an opposing affidavit without attaching notice of opposition.
Nyathi and his co-applicants represented by lawyer Norman Mugiya had submitted that Tshuma was a self-imposed president and overseer of the church, leading to the order that he and his people should vacate the church premises and house, and stop purporting to be leader.
“The church (plaintiff) was formed in 1955 under the leadership of Morgan James Sengwayo in Bulawayo as the Apostolic Faith of Portland Oregon,” the applicant’s submission reads.
“The founder passed on and there were leadership wrangles and Philemon Sibanda later assumed the office of president and overseer of the church. In 2008 when Sibanda passed on, problems started for the plaintiff. The first defendant connived with some few misguided individuals and imposed himself as the president and overseer of the plaintiff, which was not in accordance with the operative and prevailing constitution, being the 1986 constitution.”
The church submitted that without the knowledge of members of the board of trustees, another version of the constitution labelled constitution of the AFM of Africa International was drafted and Tshuma and two others allegedly went on to forge signatures of church members.
They alleged Tshuma amended the constitution in 2012 and presented it to the Registrar of Deeds and claimed the church had suffered immensely due to defendants’ fraudulent behaviour and the defendants had run the plaintiff’s business as their own personal affairs.
The application further sought to have the composition of boards of trustees and council of elders declared unlawful and disbanded. It wanted the church to be granted permission to appoint an interim committee to run the church’s affairs for the next six months while correct and lawful structures were being established.