The wrangle over control of the Paul Mwazha’s African Apostolic Church has escalated with police being accused of taking sides in factional wars in the church.
The church is involved in a protracted succession dispute pitting two factions one led by Bishops Simbanechako Sveta and Paul Chari, and the other led by Ernest Mhambare.
This is despite an extant Supreme Court ruling that thwarted both factions from unconstitutional replacement of Mwazha, the founder of one of the largest apostolic sect in the country.
The frail 104- year-old man is now incapacitated to lead the church and the two factions are battling to succeed him.
The Sveta-Chari led faction is accusing police of blocking congregants aligned to their faction from attending church and partaking in other church activities, at the instruction of Mhambare.
Through its lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, the Sveta-Chari faction has filed a complaint to Police Commission General Godwin Matanga and the President’s Office accusing Mhambare of working in cahoots with police officers to block them and other congregants in a bid to solidify his authority in the church on the strength of a High Court order issued on June 24 2022, which has nothing to do with church’s designated worshiping areas.
“It is clear that the order was obtained against Alfred Kushamisa Mwazha, Ngoni Edward Mwazha, James Mwazha, Richard Juru, Elson Tafa, Charles Tekeshe, Lovemore Mharadze and Norman Siyamuzhombe,” read the letter.
“However, the harassment by the police has been extended beyond these specified individuals, and in particular, to our clients,” read parts of the letter.”
Mr Rubaya, in his letter, also called for investigation into the alleged abuse of the police powers, members of the police force on account of instructions from Ernest Mhambare who allegedly boasts of having some of the police officers “in his pocket”.
“Our clients are part of a group of worshippers who do not subscribe to being led by one Ernest Mhambare who sought to wrestle the leadership role of the Africa Apostolic Church from Archbishop Ernest Paul Mamvura Mwazha,” he said.
Mr Rubaya said the only leader who is accepted as the leader of that church is Archbishop Ernest Paul Mamvura Mwazha and no one else.
The Supreme Court has since resolved the succession dispute after it endorsed Archbishop Mwazha’s leadership in terms of the church’s constitution.
In that case, the Kushamisa-led faction conceded that Archbishop Mwazha was frail due to age but insisted that the centurion was in full control of his faculties and was still of sound mind.
But the Mhambare’s faction argued that Mwazha had dementia and was, therefore, not fit to continue as the church’s overseer.