AFM re­mains in limbo

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SOCIETY - Brian Chitemba Act­ing Re­li­gious Af­fairs Editor

THE Apos­tolic Faith Mis­sion in Zim­babwe (AFM) con­tin­ues to burn with counter-sus­pen­sions reign­ing supreme in the top lead­er­ship of the church as the bat­tle for con­trol rages on in one of the big­gest Pen­te­costal churches in the coun­try.

The long run­ning fight is threat­en­ing to split the church which has mil­lions of fol­low­ers across Zim­babwe.

It now seems there is no so­lu­tion in sight as AFM has two war­ring fac­tions — one led by church pres­i­dent Dr Aspher Madziyire while an­other is led by his deputy, Rev­erend Cosam Chiyangwa.

Ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal me­moran­dum writ­ten by the church’s gen­eral sec­re­tary Rev­erend Amos Madawu on Sep­tem­ber 26, 2018, seven top church lead­ers have since been sus­pended for vi­o­lat­ing the church con­sti­tu­tion.

He wrote that the AFM Apos­tolic Coun­cil re­solved to sus­pend with­out pay and ben­e­fits, the church’s deputy pres­i­dent and Harare West prov­ince Overseer Rev Chiyangwa, Harare North Overseer Rev Arthur Nham­buro, Harare East Overseer Rev Amon Chinyemba and Ruwa prov­ince Overseer Rev Maron Mashumba.

Oth­ers who were sus­pended in­clude Rev Nathan Nhira (Bu­l­awayo North), Rev Don­ald Ndoni (Masvingo) and Rev Ma­pu­ranga (Mid­lands South). The church lead­ers were sus­pended in terms of SI of 2006 for “con­duct in­con­sis­tent with the ex­press or im­plied con­di­tions of their em­ploy­ment”.

Rev Madawu said the church ap­pointed Rev­erends Madziyire, Join Md­longwa, Rab­son Mbedzi, In­no­cent Murefu, Knowl­edge Mun­jeri, Enos Manyika and Mun­yaradzi Shumba as a care­taker com­mit­tee in the va­cant prov­inces.

Pas­tors, el­ders, dea­cons, dea­conesses and ad­min­is­tra­tors of Harare West, East and North prov­inces as well as Ruwa are ex­pected to meet this week­end at the AFM Liv­ing Waters Bi­ble Col­lege to map the way for­ward for the af­fected ar­eas.

How­ever, one of the pas­tors who is fight­ing in Rev Chiyangwa’s cor­ner rub­bished the sus­pen­sions an­nounced by Rev Madawu.

He said, “(Rev) Madawu has no au­thor­ity to sus­pend lead­ers be­cause at the Satur­day NWC meet­ing, a vote of no con­fi­dence was passed on the (Dr) Madziyire team which has over­stayed in power and don’t want to step down.”

The sus­pen­sion of Rev Chiyangwa’s fac­tion came days af­ter his group had claimed lead­er­ship of the church.

AFM’s na­tional works coun­cil met at Ru­faro where Dr Madziyire and his lieu­tenants were sacked from the church. Rev Nhira (the act­ing sec­re­tary) wrote on Sep­tem­ber 23, 2018, an­nounc­ing that Rev Chiyangwa was the in­terim na­tional chair­man, pend­ing elec­tions. Rev Chinyemba was ap­pointed the deputy chair­man while Elder Se­bata was named the act­ing na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Rev Nhira said the Ru­faro na­tional works coun­cil meet­ing also re­solved that, “all com­mu­ni­ca­tions made from any other source shall be ig­nored with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

“That all elec­tion dates prior an­nounced through the no­tice of Sep­tem­ber 21 should be ig­nored. As per our agree­ment, no AFM in Zim­babwe As­sem­bly boards shall par­tic­i­pate in those elec­tions.

“That the na­tional in­terim com­mit­tee shall de­velop and cir­cu­late the elec­tion guide­lines to all prov­inces in line with the cur­rent AFM in Zim­babwe Con­sti­tu­tion (not the DRAFT).”

The AFM fights have mainly cen­tred on Dr Madziyire’s firm hold to of­fice for 15 years while the Rev Chiyangwa group has been push­ing for fresh elec­tions to choose new lead­er­ship.

The two camps are also dis­agree­ing on the elec­tion dates and the adop­tion of a new church con­sti­tu­tion.

The draft con­sti­tu­tion seeks to ban pas­tors from be­ing in­volved in ad­min­is­tra­tive and gov­er­nance is­sues and also re­duce the num­ber of times an as­sem­bly can hold ‘‘ap­pre­ci­a­tion days’’ for a res­i­dent pas­tor.

‘‘Ap­pre­ci­a­tion’’ is money or gifts raised in a church for the pas­tor.

It is al­leged that some pas­tors were host­ing sev­eral such days per year, in­stead of once an­nu­ally.

The draft con­sti­tu­tion has been viewed as a move to clip the wings of pas­tors op­posed to Dr Madziyire.

In a no­tice dated Sep­tem­ber 25, 2018, Rev Madawu said the new con­sti­tu­tion re­mains sus­pended un­til De­cem­ber 15, 2018, to ac­com­mo­date views from church mem­bers.

“For the avoid­ance of doubt, no changes to the new con­sti­tu­tion shall be made out­side the work­ers coun­cil and with­out be­ing sub­jected to scru­tiny and vote of the work­ers coun­cil.

“Fol­low­ing the work­ers coun­cil meet­ing, the new con­sti­tu­tion shall be im­ple­mented with or with­out amend­ment,” he said.

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