Church in nasty fight

BULAWAYO - United Pentecostal Church in Zimbabwe (UPCZ) has approached the High Court seeking an order interdicting a splinter group from interfering with church activities as well as harassing congregants.

UPCZ through its lawyer, Liberty Mcijo of Liberty Mcijo and Associates, filed an application for leave to execute a judgment by Justice Martin Makonese pending a Supreme Court appeal by the rival group.

The church cited three leaders of the breakaway group; reverends Samuel Mugwiji, Edward Fish Gwebu, Pride Nhokwara, the officer-in-charge of Magwegwe police station and the Sheriff of the High Court, as respondents.

The latest development comes at a time Justice Makonese had ordered the breakaway faction not to access the church’s branches in New Lobengula suburb, Bulawayo and Eastlea in Harare.

Refusing to go down without a fight, the rival camp then filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the High Court ruling.

Representing the breakaway faction, reverends Mugwiji, Gwebu and Nhokwara cited UPCZ as the respondent.

The trio argued Justice Makonese erred and misdirected himself by making a finding that reverend Clifford Makandise on behalf of UPCZ had locus standi to institute legal proceedings on behalf of the church.

They also argued that there was no evidence placed before the court pointing to the fact that their camp was rebellious and violating the founding principles of the church.

However, in his founding affidavit Makandise said the application for leave to execute the judgment of the High Court is premised on the fact that the appeal by rival camp lacks merit.

Makandise said his rivals convened an unsanctioned special general meeting in violation of the church constitution.

He also submitted that the three respondents were part of the leadership of the breakaway group which caused violent skirmishes and disrupted the church’s Easter Conference in Kwekwe in April resulting in the intervention of anti-riot police and the Zimbabwe National Army.

Makandise further accused the respondents of creating parallel structures within the church and causing unlawful and disorderly behaviour by refusing to attend a disciplinary hearing, which subsequently led to their ex-communication from church and ministerial duties.

The respondents, in their opposing papers, filed through Kholwani Ngwenya of TJ Mabhikwa and Partners, said the applicant made bare and unsubstantiated claims by alleging that they were abusing church properties and disrupting services.

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