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AFM leadership battle deepens

HARARE – A senior pastor with AFM in Zimbabwe has been accused of tampering with his identity documents to ensure that he remained eligible to run for the church vice-presidency as the leadership battle in the church deepens.

Reverend Aspher Madziyire and wife Josphine
Reverend Aspher Madziyire and wife Josphine

Early this week, disgruntled pastors, deacons and elders from the church filed a lawsuit at the High Court challenging the re-election of Ashper Madziyire as the church’s president.

A pastor with the church told The Standard last week that the senior pastor (name supplied) gunning for the vice-presidency had three birth certificates with different dates of birth indicating he was born in 1954, 1956 and 1961.

“He paid people I used to work with to achieve this. The birth date of his ID, driver’s licence and one of his birth certificates are all different with 1954, 1956 and 1961. This is serious fraud and one can be arrested,” he said.

Contacted for comment last week on the matter, the church’s secretary-general Amon Madawo said he was not at liberty to speak on the matter as it was now sub judice.

“We have received legal advice that we shouldn’t make any comment until the matter has gone through the court process,” he said.

“But once we receive the papers that have been filed at the High Court, we will then also file our response.”

Pastor Christopher Choto, who leads the litigation, however said he was not aware of the alleged fraud and was therefore not in a position to comment.

Sources said the AFM constitution did not allow anyone above 60 years to be voted into the church’s presidium and that could be the reason why one of the leading pastors had tampered with the dates on his identity documents.

“It’s clear he is power-hungry. Of all the other pastors he is contesting against, he feels he has a greater chance to win these elections, but this should be done in the right way. One cannot have three birth certificates,” said a source.

The fierce leadership wrangle has raised fears that one of the country’s leading Pentecostal churches may be headed for a possible split after some pastors and elders dragged their administrators to court challenging the way they conducted the church’s presidential and overseers’ elections last month.

According to court documents, some pastors, deacons and overseers from the church’s 20 provinces approached the court seeking nullification of Madziyire’s election as president.

“The above provinces were created just before the presidential election of the church to influence the election results in favour of the first defendant [Madziyire] who was the incumbent president when the provinces were created,” the pastors and deacons said in their court papers.

The litigants also claimed that Madziyire was elected without the consent of the church’s workers’ council which was supposed to form an electoral college to vote for the president.

The pastors also alleged the leaders involved “created” delegates who were not supposed to vote. Madziyire is alleged to have achieved this by creating three provinces: Manicaland East, Murewa and Mashonaland Central.

Madziyire last week refused to comment. Standard