Zimbabwe: Mwazha Fight Back in Court

27 October 2021

The dispute in the African Apostolic Church pitting founder Archbishop Paul Mwazha against his estranged son, Alfred Kushamisa, is far from over as the latter continues to flagrantly disobey a court order barring him from claiming to be the archbishop and successor to his 103-year-old father.

Only two weeks ago, the Supreme Court settled the succession dispute and wrangle for control of the church after it confirmed a High Court order that reinstated Archbishop Mwazha as the leader of the church.

It emerged over the weekend that Alfred organised a meeting to install himself as church leader against the Supreme Court order which stated that he had no right to do so as the founder was still alive and it would be in contravention of the church's constitution. According to the churches' constitution, Archbishop Paul Mwazha is the permanent head of the church.

In the event of his death, the congregational priesthood which comprises all his biological sons and are bishops in the church shall preside making decisions unanimously.

Archbishop Mwazha's lawyer Mr Nickiel Mushangwe confirmed that Alfred over the weekend organised a meeting to install himself as church leader against the Supreme Court ruling, prompting them to file an urgent application to deal with him.

Justice Rogers Manyangadze is expected to preside over the urgent application today.

"We have filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court against Kushamisa and his team. They held a meeting against a court order where they deliberated the issue of succession. The matter is set for today. They are claiming to be in charge of the church affairs on the basis that they held this meeting of the Priesthood Council which at law was illegal and fraudulent. They did not invite other members who must sit in that meeting. We want to stop them from acting in the purported capacity of the archbishop," said Mushangwe.

Three judges of the Supreme Court judges Justices George Chiweshe, Susan Mavangira and Tendai Uchena upheld the decision by High Court judge Justice Chitapi nullifying Alfred's claim to be the successor of his aged father.

The judgment read in part: "We conclude, therefore, that the non-citation of the archbishop was not fatal to the proceedings in the court a quo (lower court). Further, we are not persuaded by the appellant's contention that the court a quo erred and misdirected itself in holding, as it did... that the nomination or appointment of the first appellant as successor to the archbishop was unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void."

The judges said there was no evidence before the court that the archbishop was incapacitated and a successor should be appointed.

Mwazha has delegated some of his duties to his bishops, who are his biological sons, but the debate in the church is on who will take over in the event of his death. Archbishop Mwazha, one of few indigenous church leaders, turned 103 on Monday.

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