By Elita Chikwati
The African Apostolic Church (VaApostora veAfrica) founded by Archbishop Paul Mwazha popularly known as Mutumwa, has further split, with one of his elder sons reportedly forming a church that is attracting some of the church members.
Archbishop Mwazha’s family was last year involved in an altercation over the succession of the religious leader, resulting in one of the church members, Reverend Ernest Mhambare, instituting legal proceedings regarding succession.
There have been reports that the first born, Bishop Ngonidzashe Mwazha had left the church, but returned and was leading another faction.
Ngonidzashe, who all along was a member of Johane Marange Apostolic Church, has since reverted to his father’s church and is now enjoying considerable support.
His recent sermons, such as the well-attended Eastview, Harare, pilgrimage last Saturday, are evidence of how some members of the church are warming up to him.
Ngonidzashe dismissed claims he had returned to his father’s church to cause divisions but insisted that the leader himself, Mutumwa Mwazha, had called him back so he could help his brother.
“It is Paul Mwazha himself who called me back to help AK (Bishop Alfred Kushamisa Mwazha) who is the leader of the church. We are simply helping people and doing the work of God as what our father used to do during his days when he still had the energy. Our job speaks for itself. We do not spend time engaging the media to fight battles. I am a Man of God and helping my brother,” he said.
Some of the church members dismissed claims of another faction, and said Ngonidzashe was operating outside the church while the AAC led by Paul Mwazha remained the same.
One of Archbishop Mwazha’s sons, Bishop Alfred Kushamisa Mwazha, popularly known as AK whom Ngonidzashe claimed to be helping, said he was not aware of the latest division.
Bishop AK said nothing had changed from the time a court judgment issued in December last year nullified his appointment as the leader of the church and successor, and ruled that Archbishop Mwazha remains the leader.
“We hear Ngonidzashe is conducting services in Waterfalls and Damofalls. The church has not split.
“Ngonidzashe left the church and he knows the church regulations concerning the reasons for his departure. His issues have not been addressed and he will have to follow proper channels to rejoin the church,” he said.
AAC general secretary, Bishop Jeshua Mhizha said Ngonidzashe was not operating within their church but had formed his own organisation which was independent from the Archbishop Paul Mwazha led AAC.
“Ngonidzashe is the first born in the family. The church has not split but some sons are now looking for followers for their independent churches. Some are taking advantage of the famous name to lure people to their churches.
“Our church still remains with 28 bishops and only a few bishops have left,” he said.
Press secretary, Bishop Wilson Rutsate, said the church had structures put in a place by their leader Archbishop Mwazha.
“Some of us respect the structures and we remain loyal to them. Archbishop Mwazha made transparent appointments for leadership and if anyone decides to leave their structures, we have no control over them.
“We have no control over further splits and they do not even add any value to us because we respect structures,” he said.
Bishop Rutsate said the case was taken to the courts, which directed that the church reverts to the constitution with Archbishop Mwazha remaining the leader.
“If people work outside the structures, they have their own rights to do so and we do not stop them. Their structures are of no consequence to us. We wait for the final decisions from the courts and it put all these issues to rest.
“What we know is that no one can claim to be a leader when Mutumwa Mwazha is still there,” he said.
Archbishop Mwazha’s family was in May last year involved in an altercation over the succession of the religious leader, resulting in one of the church members, Rev Mhambare instituting legal proceedings regarding succession.
One of the sons, Alfred, claimed to have been appointed successor by his father while some church and family members argued that the Archbishop preferred his youngest son, Tawanda, who was away, to succeed him.
Both parties said they were basing their argument on a letter written by Archbishop Mwazha’s aide on the instructions of the church leader earlier this year, stating that Tawanda should continue presiding over the holy communion ceremony in the church.
He also indicated that Tawanda should be accompanied by Alfred to buy items for the ceremony. The Herald