Court settles Zion wrangle

HARARE - A High Court judge has ruled that Ezra Pedzisayi Shoko is the legitimate bishop of Zion Apostolic Faith Mission Church (Zion), following a bitter leadership wrangle with his brother Jameson.

The two are sons of the late Dorius Pedzisayi Shoko and were involved in an acrimonious legal battle to take over leadership of the church following their father’s death in October 2012.

“That the defendant (Jameson) and all those claiming title through him be and are hereby interdicted from using the plaintiff (Zion)’s name. That the defendant and all those claiming title through him be and are hereby barred from using plaintiff’s properties and facilities without consent from the plaintiff,” High Court Judge Loice Matanda-Moyo said in her ruling.

She further ordered Jameson to stop interfering with the church’s activities and pay costs of the suit.

The battle spilled into the High Court after Ezra was appointed the new bishop on the basis that their father had spoken by word of mouth and written in his will that he should take over the church leadership.

Jameson, who holds an archbishop licence, on the other hand claimed to have been ordained by the leaders of the two Zion formations, Zion Christian Church and Zion Apostolic Church.

Matanda-Moyo in her judgment noted that the two brothers differed on the procedures to appoint the church’s leader, in the event the incumbent bishop passes on.

“The plaintiff’s evidence is that the next bishop is appointed by the incumbent bishop during his lifetime whilst the defendant’s is that the next bishop is appointed in terms of the 1949 covenant,” Matanda-Moyo said.

Jameson argued that Ezra’s appointment was a violation of church tradition.

He denied the existence of a constitution made by the plaintiff, which governs the issue of succession.

Jameson told the court that he was selected at a family meeting in December 2012 to take over from his late father.

However, Matanda-Moyo in her ruling observed that the church had a constitution.

“All disputes involving the church thus must be resolved in terms of the constitution. The defendant is of course the eldest surviving son of the late bishop but evidence showed that he is not well spoken of by the council of elders.

“It would not augur well to let the defendant take over from his late father whose beliefs he did not accept. It is Ezra who has not departed from the religious principles of those bishops before him, the founding fathers,” Matanda-Moyo said.

Thabani Mpofu appeared for the Zion church, while Jameson was represented by Tererai Gunje.

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