Fired ‘dic­ta­tor’ pas­tor takes church to court

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda

A BAP­TIST Church pas­tor who was fired for al­legedly be­ing “a dic­ta­tor in the house of God” has taken the church to court over more than $16 000 in out­stand­ing ter­mi­nal ben­e­fits and salary ar­rears.

Rev Dav­i­son Mukan­dat­sama was sacked from the Beit­bridge Bap­tist Church last year in Septem­ber on three months’ no­tice af­ter he re­sisted a res­o­lu­tion by the church coun­cil to be af­fil­i­ated to the Bap­tist Con­ven­tion of Zim­babwe (BCZ), which is the church’s lo­cal mother body.

Rev Mukan­dat­sama this week ap­proached the Bu­l­awayo High Court seek­ing an or­der to reg­is­ter an ar­bi­tral award which was granted by the Na­tional Em­ploy­ment Coun­cil (NEC) in his favour four months ago.

The ar­bi­tral award was con­firmed by the Labour Court on July 22 this year.

The ap­pli­ca­tion filed in terms of the Labour Act seeks to en­force the NEC ar­bi­tra­tor’s rul­ing or­der­ing Bap­tist Church to pay Rev Mukan­dat­sama $15 355 and R16 000 in re­trench­ment pack­ages, out­stand­ing al­lowances and salary ar­rears.

In pa­pers be­fore the court, the ar­bi­tra­tor Mr Wiri­ranai Mat­eveke and Rev Mukan­dat­sama are the ap­pli­cants while Beit­bridge Bap­tist Church was cited as the re­spon­dent.

Rev Mukan­dat­sama, through his lawyers, Taven­have and Machin­gauta Le­gal Prac­ti­tion­ers, said the salary ar­rears were from Oc­to­ber 2015 to Jan­uary 2016.

He said the ap­pli­ca­tion was premised on the fact that the church ei­ther re­fused or ne­glected to pay the salary ar­rears.

In his found­ing af­fi­davit, Mr Mat­eveke said de­spite the en­dorse­ment of the rul­ing, the church has shown re­luc­tance to hon­our the or­der.

“This is an ap­pli­ca­tion for reg­is­tra­tion of an or­der of the Labour Court in terms of sec­tion 92b (3) of the Labour Act for it to have the ef­fect of a court or­der for pur­poses of en­force­ment. This was a labour dis­pute be­tween sec­ond ap­pli­cant (Rev Mukan­dat­sama) and the re­spon­dent which was re­ferred to me for con­cil­i­a­tion at the Min­istry of Labour in Beit­bridge. The con­cil­i­a­tion failed which in turn caused me to is­sue out a rul­ing in favour of the sec­ond ap­pli­cant,” said Mr Mat­eveke.

“My rul­ing has not been hon­oured by the re­spon­dent, which caused me in my of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity as ar­bi­tra­tor to ap­proach the Labour Court seek­ing the en­dorse­ment of the rul­ing.”

Rev Mukan­dat­sama, in his sup­port­ing af­fi­davit, said his for­mer em­ployer has not made ef­forts to com­ply with the or­der. “I am en­ti­tled to take re­course to this hon­ourable court for the reg­is­tra­tion of the Labour Court or­der for the pur­poses of civil en­force­ment once it is reg­is­tered,” he said.

Rev Mukan­dat­sama, who served the Bap­tist Church as its Beit­bridge res­i­dent pas­tor since 1994, ac­cuses the church coun­cil of de­part­ing from the found­ing prin­ci­ples by vot­ing in favour of the church’s af­fil­i­a­tion to the BCZ.

He ar­gued that giv­ing away the lo­cal church’s au­ton­omy through join­ing BCZ was in vi­o­la­tion of the church con­sti­tu­tion. “It ap­pears to me that what is supreme to the church coun­cil is the prin­ci­ple of ma­jori­tar­i­an­ism in vi­o­la­tion of the Bap­tist prin­ci­ples un­der­pinned by the need for au­ton­omy of the lo­cal church. The church coun­cil sim­ply voted with­out due con­sid­er­a­tion of the Bap­tist prin­ci­ples,” said Rev Mukan­dat­sama.

He ar­gued that each branch ought to runs its own af­fairs with­out the in­ter­fer­ence of the mother body.

The church on the other hand ac­cuses Rev Mukan­dat­sama of ex­hibit­ing dic­ta­to­rial ten­den­cies by chal­leng­ing the author­ity and de­ci­sions made by the church coun­cil, which is the supreme body.

The church also al­leged that Rev Mukan­dat­sama was a “power hun­gry” in­di­vid­ual who is be­hind the for­ma­tion of a splin­ter group called African Bap­tist Con­ven­tion of Zim­babwe. — @mash­nets

Mr Mu­denda on his hos­pi­tal bed show­ing in­juries from a croc­o­dile at­tack. In­set, the wounds that were in­flicted on Mr Mu­denda’s leg by the rep­tile

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