By Richard Chidza and Mugove Tafirenyika
HARARE – Zanu PF’s quest to use indigenous churches in the coming elections has reached new levels with Vice President Joice Mujuru’s name being dragged into a ragging bitter war for the control of Zion Apostolic Faith Mission Church.
Mujuru is the matron of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ), an ecumenical board of Apostolic and Zionist churches led by Zanu PF-aligned Archbishop Johannes Ndanga.
The younger claimant to the throne, Ezra Pedzisai alleges that Ndanga is using his political connections in Zanu PF and in particular Mujuru to subvert his father’s will.
“Ndanga is using the name of Vice President Mujuru to cow everyone to submit to his whims. It is a shame he deliberately uses the ACCZ’s name to achieve his objective. It is against what my father wanted,” Ezra said.
Ndanga immediately poured cold water on the claims accusing the younger heir of being childish and working against Christian values.
“By resorting to the courts to solve religious cases he (Ezra) is going against the grain of what governs Christianity. He has also dragged the name of the deputy president to gain sympathy from Zanu PF under the pretext that he is being labelled an MDC sympathiser. It is all hogwash,” said Ndanga.
Ndanga denied claims he had ordained or was in favour of the elder son Jameson.
“These people are misguided missiles and they need to sober up. They went to court against my advice because the Bible discourages that and now that they are losing their case they want to drag Mujuru into something she has nothing to do with just to give weight to their assertions.
“Succession in the church is clearly defined by their constitution that the eldest son takes over but they want to overturn that for reasons best known to themselves,” the ACCZ president said. He denied that he is using his political connections.
“Our relationship with Zanu PF is simply that we are both indigenous in scope and character. We support a government that recognises priesthood just as King David would govern with the priests,” Ndanga said.
Ezra, on the other hand, accused Ndanga and the ACCZ of poking their nose where they are not wanted.
“It’s not their (ACCZ) business to determine who leads the church. In any case who is Ndanga to challenge my father’s will?
“I am not claiming to be the heir, I am one,” said Ezra, a lecturer at Bindura University of Science Education. Early this month, things came to a head when the elder son tried to hold a second memorial service, which, according to Ezra, was supposed to anoint Jameson as the rightful church leader.
Ezra says he tried to stop the ceremony by publishing an advert in the State-owned media but this was countered by a stinging letter allegedly written by Ndanga on an ACCZ letterhead bearing Mujuru’s name to the paper threatening unspecified action.
“The newspaper was then forced to drop the advert and refunded us the $502 we had paid. It is clearly abuse of office by Ndanga and if anything abusing the name of the vice president who we believe may not be aware of this issue,” said Ezra.
Ezra claims Ndanga sweet-talked them into withdrawing a pending High Court case.
“Now that we have withdrawn the case, Ndanga is telling anyone who cares to listen that we are afraid of him. We will keep on fighting until the church is in the hands of its rightful leader as required by the founding leader,” he told the Daily News on Sunday.
The Zionist movement’s late leader and father to the warring sons, Andreas Pedzisai Shoko reportedly anointed his younger son Ezra instead of Jameson, the eldest, triggering the acrimonious fight.
The other two branches of the three Zionists sister churches formed by a set of brothers while working in South Africa in the 1930s are led by David Masuka (Zion Apostolic Church) and Makuva Mutendi (Zion Christian Church) who Ndanga claims are the ones who should anoint a leader across the movement. Daily News