AFM leader to step down

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

ONE of the long­est serv­ing lead­ers of a Pen­te­costal church in Zim­babwe, AFM pres­i­dent Dr Aspher Madziyire will step down from the helm of the church af­ter elec­tions to choose a new leader are held this Satur­day.

How­ever, a ri­val camp led by for­mer vi­cepres­i­dent Rev­erend Cosam Chiyangwa held its elec­tions last week in Masvingo where Rev Chiyangwa was elected the leader of his group.

Dr Madziyre con­firmed to Sun­day News last week that he is not seek­ing re-elec­tion when his side holds elec­tions to chose a new ex­ec­u­tive on 3 Novem­ber.

The elec­tions are com­ing at a time when AFM, one of the big­gest Pen­te­costal churches in the coun­try, has been rocked by di­vi­sions with two dis­tinct camps hav­ing emerged.

“I am not seek­ing re-elec­tion, I have done my part and oth­ers have to come in and lead the church,” said Dr Madiyire who started lead­ing the church in 2006.

Pressed to com­ment on the prob­lems that have rocked the church, in­clud­ing his pur­ported sus­pen­sion by the other group, Rev Madziyire said:

“I will write a book about that, so at the mo­ment, I will not talk much. But you must know that Satan nor­mally fights those who are strong, so if you see some peo­ple be­ing used to fight you, then it means you are a strong be­liever. Even in the Bi­ble, you can see that Satan would tar­get the strong ones but we all know that in the end God wins,” he said.

De­spite not be­ing able to talk much about the go­ings on in the church since he took over 12 years ago, Dr Madziyire was will­ing to let the his­tory of the fight in the church come out through one of his trusted lieu­tenants, Dr Clever Gomba who is an overseer in Bu­l­awayo.

“In short the fight in AFM is cen­tred on money and re­sources,” said Dr Gomba who was quick to say that his anal­y­sis is not only from a church point of view but an aca­demic point of views since he is a lec­turer at So­lusi Univer­sity.

“All along AFM pas­tors used to get money from the branches they are lead­ing. You would dis­cover a pas­tor in Bor­row­dale (Harare) would col­lect about $30 000 per month as tithes in ad­di­tion to ap­pre­ci­a­tion which is done quar­terly. An­other pas­tor who grad­u­ated from the same school but posted in ru­ral areas would get far less, say $90 and this was cre­at­ing prob­lems.

“So we said let us amend the con­sti­tu­tion to al­low the pool­ing of re­sources and al­low pas­tors to be paid cen­trally and that is when all hell broke loose.

“Those pas­tors who were ben­e­fit­ing re­sisted and in short this is what started all these di­vi­sions that are rock­ing the church now,” he said.

Dr Gomba said be­fore the amend­ments could even be ef­fected, a splin­ter group led Rev Chiyangwa started try­ing to un­seat Dr Madziyire and called a meet­ing. They al­legedly passed a vote of no con­fi­dence on Dr Madziyire and a num­ber of of­fi­cials.

“The con­sti­tu­tion states that only the pres­i­dent can call a Coun­cil meet­ing so that is the first thing. Sec­ondly a quo­rum (for a Coun­cil meet­ing) must be made up of about 1 500 del­e­gates mainly pas­tors and over­seers out of the 3 500 mem­bers. This meet­ing had just around 750 mem­bers so it lacked merit on many fronts.”

Dr Gomba said since Rev Chiyangwa has held elec­tions and branched away with just 280 pas­tors, it was clear who has more sup­port and more peo­ple.

“We have more than 1 000 or­dained pas­tors and 32 over­seers and most of them have re­mained with the church. This is not sur­pris­ing a lot of peo­ple have moved out of the church since it came to Zim­babwe around 1915.”

AFM’s his­tory is lit­tered with splits. The church was started in Zim­babwe by Rev Zachar­ius Manamela in Gwanda in 1915.

Barely a year later, one of the prom­i­nent peo­ple to come out of the church was Rev Sa­muel Mu­tendi who formed the Black Zion­ist Church which is now the present day ZCC Mu­tendi. Around 1945, an­other ma­jor spilt saw the for­ma­tion of Mu­godi Apos­tolic Church. In the 1950s, an­other ma­jor split came in the form of Rev Ezekiel Guti when he formed the then AOGA.

Over the years, some of the churches that have come out of AFM in­clude Life House In­ter­na­tional led by the late Evan­ge­list Tal­ent Chi­weshe, Heart­felt In­ter­na­tional Min­is­ters led by Bishop Tavonga Vutab­wase, United Fam­ily Church In­ter­na­tional led by Pas­tor Em­manuel Makandiwa and In­ter­na­tional DSD led by Pas­tor Oliver Chipunza.

“So you can see this is not new, many peo­ple have moved out of AFM but it has re­mained strong,” said Dr Gomba.

Dr Aspher Madziyire

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