By Daniel Nemukuyu
UNITED Family International Church founder Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa has been slapped with a US$680 000 lawsuitby motivational speaker Mr Pascal Nyasha for allegedly hijacking his airtime communication project.
Mr Nyasha, who operates Daily Inspiration and Extreme Motivation Centre Private Limited that trades as Pascal Nyasha Seminars International, claims the popular “Christian Spiritual Link” system was his brainchild. He contends that Prophet Makandiwa and his team simply changed the name from the original “Evangelicard.”
He argues the system was his own baby and that he was surprised to hear Prophet Makandiwa publicly claiming the link to be his. Through his lawyer, Mr Wellington Pasipanodya of Manase and Manase, Mr Nyasha yesterday filed two separate applications at the High Court against Prophet Makandiwa and his church.
He issued summons in which he is claiming US$180 000 for patrimonial loss and US$500 000 for copyright infringement. Mr Nyasha has also filed an urgent chamber application to bar Prophet Makandiwa, UFI, agents and workers from manufacturing, producing, selling, dealing and distributing Spiritual Link cards.
The communication link requires church members to buy an airtime card inscribed “Christian Spiritual Link” which costs US$3. Members scratch the card and send the numbers to some cellphone numbers depending on each member’s network service.
Those with Econet lines send the secret numbers to 0773 341 040 to 59, Telecel subscribers to 0714 768 502 to 11 while those with NetOne lines send to 0735 451 851 to 60. After sending the numbers, one receives confirmation on his or her phone and from there he or she receives devotional SMS messages from Prophet Makandiwa for six consecutive days.
It expires after six days and the interested members can recharge through buying more airtime. The more the people buy airtime, the more money the operators make.
According to papers filed at the High Court, Mr Nyasha and his two firms were Copyright and Intellectual property owners in a concept known as Evangelicard, Daily Inspiration Concept and Daily Link.
The Registrar of Patents, Trade Marks, Industrial Designs and Copyrights, duly granted the licence for copyright protection. On May 18 2011, Mr Nyasha claims, he engaged Prophet Makandiwa and his UFI team with a project proposal for the purpose and aim of going into business partnership with the defendants.
UFI representatives, Ms Ruth Nyanhoro, pastor Jacob Tembo and Mr Tawanda Makandiwa met Mr Nyasha on numerous occasions and held teleconferences.
“The defendants (Prophet Makandiwa and UFI) agreed that our project was a noble one and they even advised us that we had done a good thing by registering a copyright and intellectual protection.
“They undertook to come back to plaintiffs (Mr Nyasha and his team) with full instructions for the printing and marketing of Evangelicard concept at UFI through first defendant (Prophet Makandiwa).
“However, defendants proceeded to create his own cards under the name “Christian Spiritual Link” card on July 24 and have been exhibiting themselves and holding out to be the pioneers of the idea. Clearly, it is a blatant infringement of our copyright and intellectual property rights,” read the papers.
Despite the demand from Mr Nyasha and his firms, the prophet and his church reportedly continued infringing the plaintiffs’ rights by implementing the project.
“Plaintiffs have suffered harm to their reputation, goodwill and loss of revenue as a direct result of the illegal disregard of the law and infringement of plaintiffs copyright and intellectual property rights.”
Prophet Makandiwa and his church are yet to respond the two applications.