ECZ looks to throw out bishops, pastors

HARARE - Evangelic Church of Zimbabwe (ECZ) has filed a High Court application seeking the excommunication of eight of its members, who include a bishop, pastors and other congregants for setting up a parallel church.

ECZ is seeking the ex-communication of bishop Benson Makichi, pastors Simon Nota, Silas Gweshe, Everson Breakfast, Fredson Gama and another one only identified as Mugava as well as former congregants Gibson Mutsaka and David Chiveso.

The church demanded a declaratory order that the pastors, the bishop and the other congregants are no longer members of ECZ. It further demanded that the group should be prohibited from using the church’s name, buildings, properties and uniforms.

“The claim arose from the fact that the defendants who are all former pastors, leaders and congregants in plaintiff (ECZ) have deserted plaintiff and formed their own organisation but continue to use plaintiff’s name, properties, uniforms and church buildings.

“Despite demand, the defendants (bishop, pastors and former congregants) have continued to use the properties, uniforms, name and buildings which the plaintiff has title, rights and interest,” the court heard.

According to the court summons, the clique is using the church’s buildings in Harare’s Warren Park, Glen Norah, Mbare, Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana and Houghton Park suburbs and others in Bindura and Kwekwe.

The wrangle began when Makichi became a bishop in 2009. Upon the expiry of his term of office last year, he was nominated to run for office again but was later disqualified on the basis that he did not meet the qualifications and experience that was required at the time.

“First defendant (Makichi) was aggrieved by the disqualification and tried to stop the whole election process, a move which was thwarted by this honourable court,” the court heard.

A new bishop Isaac Soda was eventually elected in March this year at the church’s annual general conference but Makichi and the other seven defendants boycotted the event.

They instead reportedly convened an “unconstitutional meeting” where they renounced Soda’s election, before setting a parallel leadership structure.

“The defendants continue to unlawfully collect tithes and offerings made by plaintiff’s members who have fallen prey to the defendants’ conduct,” the court heard.

The defendants have since filed an appearance to defend but are still to respond comprehensively to the summons.

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