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High Court: 'No Earthly Anointment of Priests'

The High Court has ruled that it is not mandated to appoint, anoint, and ordain members of the clergy in Zimbabwe, saying that this is the ...

The High Court has ruled that it is not mandated to appoint, anoint, and ordain members of the clergy in Zimbabwe, saying that this is the responsibility of church members as provided by church constitutions. 

Evangelical Church of Zimbabwe (ECZ) Bishop, Reverend Isaac Soda had approached the court seeking the confirmation of his election as Bishop of ECZ.

He also wanted the previous Bishop, Reverend Benson Makachi and his sect barred from interfering with his work.

In his judgment, Justice David Mangota ruled that, “The court reminds the applicant that it is not the business of the court to anoint or consecrate or appoint or ordain priests and or bishops.

“That aspect lies within the jurisdiction of the organization’s membership as dictated to the same by its rules, regulations, practices and or procedures.”
'No Earthly Appointments' 

However, Rev Soda’s application has been dismissed because minutes of a conference held on 21 March, 2016; the day he was elected, recorded that the quorum was short of five delegates.

The required mark of 100 delegates. According to the court papers, when the election was about to commence, four members walked out of the conference room. Justice Mangota ruled that the court’s decision was based on the church’s constitution.

“Where a dispute such as the present one arises, the court’s duty is to interpret the contents of the documents which governs the activities of the organization and ascertain if what the members did was or is in sync with what they agreed between and amongst themselves.

Following the ruling, a sect that is sympathetic to Rev Makachi issued a statement claiming that he has been restored as the church’s Bishop, adding confusion in the church.

The statement reads in part: “Bishop Magwonjo Makachi has been and continues to be the Bishop and leader of the Evangelical Church of Zimbabwe until credible and legitimate elections are held.”

ln the meantime, Rev Amos Mateva is the acting Bishop of the church as provided for by the church’s constitution which provides for the deputy Bishop to temporarily occupy the position when the need arises.

Since 2014, the ECZ leadership wrangles have been spilling into the courts with reports showing that these battles emanated in 2009 when Rev Makachi was elected as church Bishop. Reports suggest that at that time, he did not have the required qualifications, and therefore could not contest during the 2014 elections.

ln 2015, the High Court issued an order barring Rev Makachi from calling for any church meetings or interfering with the election of a new bishop in line with the church’s constitution.

For a long time, the courts have become a place for recourse for churches that have failed to settle their leadership wrangles amicably.

The Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect, Anglican Church and the AFM in Zimbabwe disputes are well documented and have spanned for years.

ln 1992, leadership wrangles took root in the Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect led by Noah Taguta, resulting in legal battles for church ownership and regalia.

For five years since 2007, the Anglican Church operated under two factions — the Anglican Church Province of Central Africa (CPCA) headed by Bishop Chad Gandiya and the ADH led by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga.

The fall-out emerged after ADH withdrew from the CPCA following differences over homosexuality.

AFM in Zimbabwe has grabbed media headlines with pastors, deacons and elders taking the president of the church, Rev Ashper Madziyire and his executive, to court, challenging his re-election.

In 2008, the Belvedere assembly dragged its pastor to court for promoting unbiblical practices. In 2009, church members were at loggerheads with Rev Madziyire who was also their overseer due to alleged misappropriation of funds.

In 2013, the late founder of Zion Apostolic Faith Mission Church – Bishop Pedzisai Shoko’s two sons were locked in a legal battle to take over leadership of the church following their father’s death the previous year. - The Sunday Mail 

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