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Inside the epic battle for supremacy: When the largest Apostolic sect gets shaken

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Relations in the African Apostolic Church (Led by Ernest Paul Mwazha, 102) continue to slide down the valleys of uncertainty as the battle for leadership continues unabated. The plight of many congregants is now plunging down the abyss of a blind future as the leaders of the church are engaged in a detrimental leadership wrangle. Vying with the Roman Catholic Church and a number of mainstream churches, Mwazha’s church claims over a million registered congregants in mainland Zimbabwe and hundreds of thousands of followers in Southern Africa and abroad.

Of late, the fate of this massive following, which has been the pride of the founder, now lies at stake. A product manufactured for over 86 years of his life, a product he dedicated his life to, is now lying at stake as his followers battle it out in the courts of law and on the ground. The church has joined the bandwagon of its predecessors, like AFM, Anglican, Seventh Day and others which were literally wreaked by internal fights. That brings us to the question; with all this happening, whither the African Apostolic Church?

A brief background

TAAC was founded by Paul Mwazha, born at Holy Cross Mission in the year, 1918. Mwazha is the oldest surviving Apostolic Church leader in Africa South of the Sahara. Mwazha has 14 children with three different wives. With his first wife, he had four children. Ngoni Alfred is the firstborn and currently a member of the Johane Marange Church. Alfred Kushamisa is the second born, Farai (deceased) 3rd born, and James the 4th born. These are the sons of his first wife who is now late. With his second wife, he had Dr Masimba Mwazha. With his last wife who died a few years ago, he had Chiseko and Tawanda Israel.

It is the first wife sons and the last wife sons who are causing the headache in the church right now as they fight for leadership.

Chaos: When did it start?

The chaos started when Ngoni Mwazha and Tawanda Mwazha became visible in church politics. It is alleged that Tawanda Mwazha was being propped up by his mother to take the rod of leadership after his father. Both sons are believed to be spiritually talented, with Ngoni performing healing miracles, exorcising demons, and supporting prophecy to the fullest. Likewise, Tawanda is a miracle worker. Each of the two is fully supported by his maternal brothers. When Ngoni Mwazha’s son mysteriously died of food poisoning, Ngoni stopped coming to church but remained visible in church administration. He is now worshipping God as a follower of Johane Marange. Alfred Kushamisa, his brother, is now the de-facto church leader.

In March this year, a letter purpotedly written by Ev Kasima, Mwazha’s garderner, under the instructions of Mutumwa, as Mwazha is affectionately known by his followers, was read to the church’s Body of Trustees and Priesthood Council. This letter appointed AK as the church leader, and Tawanda as the superintendent of the Holy Communion. Ngoni was allegedly dismissed from the leadership as he is polygamous. This was the match the lit the bonfire we are seeing today.

Of Mnangagwa and Mwazha’s sons

It is alleged that, after this letter was read, Tawanda Mwazha went to the President;s chambers. He was accombanied by his ardent followers, Bishop Patrick Mahachi, Mwagura and Mukumba. It is alleged that they informed the President that he, Tawanda, was now the church leader as all his brothers were no longer members of the church.

The President then summoned AK to get his version of the story and he was accompanied by his ardent supporters, Bishop Juru, General Secretary, Ngoni, his elder brother, Reverend Siyamuzhombwe and others. In this meeting, AK dismissed Tawanda’s report as a pack of lies.

Mnangagwa sent a delegation to Mwazha’s homestead in an attempt to broker peace between the warring faction, but it was met with violence by Paul’s grandsons Malcomm and Nyasha, who blocked it. Nyasha even went on to accuse Masimba Mwazha of trying to kill his father.

Of courts and the church wrangle

The son to Bishop Mhambare, the late chairman of the church, then took AK and team to the courts. In his court papers (a copy of which are in the hands of this reporter), he said Mwazha now suffers from dementia and thus cannot make decisions. He wants the court to bar AK and his team from doing the duties allocated to them. He is supported by Nyasah, Malcolm, Mahachi, Bishop Zeremende, Mhizha, Mwagura, and Mukumba. Nyasha and Malcolm went on to apply for a peace order. The peace orders were subsequently dismissed as they lacked merit

The main case was postponed to September for delivery of judgement by the High Court. AK and his team are defending their posts, led by Reverend Siyamuzhombwe.

Of dismissals and counter dismissals

Tawanda’s team, always on the offensive, has expelled AK’s team more than three times from the church. Their excommunications however lacks quorum and thus have failed dismally for more than three consecutive times.

Of allegations and counter allegations

In an audio in circulation on social media, Mwazha is heard complaining that some of his lieutenants wants to kill him. Nyasha quickly blames AK and crew, in the same manner, he did in May. However, AK’s faction decisively denies the allegations and blames Nyasha’s faction for trying to mislead Mutumwa, as he is affectionately known.

Church doctrine and the epic debate

The doctrine taught by Mwazha has been a bone of contention for many church goers. Mwazha forbade the eating of bread raised with yeast, watching of television, soccer, gambling, pool and other sporting activities. Moreover, Mwazha continues to defend Deutronomy 14 on the animals that should be consumed.

He forbade women from wearing miniskirts and men from wearing shorts. Moreover, he discouraged the wearing of red and black clothes. All these regulations are also central to the succession debate.

Tawanda’s followers want all these regulations to be waived and eased. They want to follow the Pentecostal churches way of worship. Even when speaking in tongues, they are more aligned to Petecostalism.

AK’s followers are hardcore followers of their father, Paul. They defend his regulations with their blood. They encourage all night prayers (tsindondi/sowe). They fast relentlessly. Unlike Tawanda’s followers, they defend prophets and seers. They use two books written by Mutumwa Mwazha and the bible as their reference. They are more of VaApostora than Pentecostals

Whither the Apostles of Jesus who are non-aligned

This unrelenting battle rages on. No one knows its end but God alone. However, some followers have fallen by the wayside. The factionalism is now deep rooted. Some have crossed the floor to other churches.

The hardcore adherents of the church complain that Mutumwa is being abused by these two factions. His name has been dragged into the courts of law. They visit him day in day out with differing statements. They expel his trusted lieutenants from church. They separate him from his children. They are destroying the work that he labored for, for so many years. They fight against his doctrines. They seek to separate him from his followers.

All non aligned members want both factions to stop

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