By Fatima Bulla Musakwa
Mugodhi Apostolic Faith Church recently hosted a ground breaking ceremony for land meant to build a school, moving away from the power wrangles that had threatened to bring the church to its knees.
Scenes of dance and singing that characterised the event, were also inspired by the ruling of the Supreme Court on October 16, that set aside previous court judgements that Bishop Tadewu Mugodhi, the late leader of the church, had been removed as the church bishop at the time he was alive.
The ruling also set aside decisions barring his sons Washington, Innocent and Enock from being involved in the activities of the church while recognising Tony Sigauke, one of Mugodhi’s deputies, as the acting bishop.
Power struggles arose in the church last year when the late Tadewu anointed his son Washington to succeed him before he died, much to the disagreement of Sigauke and a section of the church.
When the case spilled into the High Court, allegations were that Sigauke had doctored papers that gave Mugodhi’s son the right to take over from his father and changed this to a desire that the bishop wanted leadership to follow hierarchy.
While Washington Mugodhi lost the case at the High Court, church members supporting him filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.
Last month, the Supreme Court set aside decisions made in previous judgements and struck the application off the roll, paving the way for Washington to assume leadership of the church.
Last Sunday, the church received 15 hectares of land donated by Mr Josiah Conrad Tongogara, first born son of the late national hero, Josiah Magama Tongogara.
Partitioned from Haston Farm in Lower Gweru, the land’s title will be in the church’s name.
The church intends, among other projects, to build a school and lessen the burden of children in the surrounding villages who walk for about 7km to Zaloba Primary School or Riverdale, which is 15km away.
The nearest secondary school is Nkululeko, situated about 18km away.
In an interview, Washington Mugodhi said he was pursuing the vision of his father that people ought to worship freely and work to support Government programmes.
“We support the fact that youths have to be empowered and own land, being involved in mining and various cooperatives,” he said.
“In line with Vision 2030, we desire that Government may also support youths and the poor through our church structures and development will be recognised.
“And as for the future of the church, what is important is to forgive so that anyone can worship freely.
“So we welcome even those who were fighting us with open arms as long as they follow church regulations.”
While officially handing over the land to the church, Mr Tongogara said he donated out of a desire to solve the challenges that the communities were facing in accessing education.
“This donation will bring a lot of changes to our surrounding villages as it will assist children to walk shorter distances and therefore have more time to study,” he said. “It means the number of school dropouts will be cut drastically and this can even improve behaviour change in the villages.”
Mugodhi Apostolic Faith Church was started by Elijah Mugodhi after he broke away from the Apostolic Faith Church, after he married a second wife against the church’s principles.
After Elijah’s death, four leaders: Chakwinya, Chikwera, Mvuyiwa and Mungani led the church as his sons were still young.
It is said before he died, he made it known that leadership of the church had to be returned to his children when they had grown up.
Mungani later handed over the reins of the church to Tadewu, who passed away last year in October. The Herald