The faction led by Reverend Cossam Chiangwa has officially launched its own splinter church after the Supreme Court brought an end to the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) saga last week. The new church is called the AFM OF Zimbabwe to differentiate it from the existing AFM IN Zimbabwe led by Reverend Amon Madawo.
The AFM Of Zimbabwe also uses introduced a new logo, which is similar to the one used by the AFM In Zimbabwe. The logo for the AFM Of Zimbabwe reverses some of the colour schemes and uses different shades of the same colours. It also laterally inverts some of the symbols.
The decision to launch a new splinter church came after the Reverend Chiangwa led faction lost the fight for the control of the AFM In Zimbabwe church at the Supreme Court.
The apex ruled that Reverend Chiangwa and his group have no legal standing to challenge how the AFM in the Zimbabwe church runs its affairs. The Supreme Court ruled that Reverend Chiangwa and his group had seceded from the church and effectively declared that Reverend Amon Madawo was the rightful leader of the AFM in Zimbabwe.
Following the devastating ruling from the Supreme Court, the Chiangwa group took some days to regroup and strategise. On Thursday, they officially announced that they were launching their own church, the AFM Of Zimbabwe.
Announcing the new church, Reverend Nathan Nhira, the secretary-general of the AFM Of Zimbabwe said,
On behalf of the President, Rev. C. Chiangwa and his Executive, I would like to thank each and every one of our members for the stance, support in kind and financially, notwithstanding the service you rendered to God during this saddest moment of the Church.
Now the Church is moving on!
We remain the same AFM Church, the original Apostolic Faith Mission in every respect as our fathers left us the legacy. You’re rest assured if Sekuru Kupara rises from the grave, he will march into any of our Churches comfortably.
However, due to the current circumstances, we have rebranded to
APOSTOLIC FAITH MISSION OF ZIMBABWE
In a separate communication, Reverend Nhira said that the new church can continue using the logo of the AFM because it is still a part of AFM International.
We are re-constituting ourselves. We still part of AFM International and hence we can still use the logo again until AFM International excludes us from its affiliate membership, then we will design an appropriate logo and move on to establish our own International forum.
The AFM Of Zimbabwe also announced alternative venues and locations for their church services after they were barred by the High Court from using the properties and assets of the AFM In Zimbabwe.
The Reverend Amon Madawo led AFM In Zimbabwe church is yet to speak on the announcement and launch of the AFM of Zimbabwe splinter church.
Background To The Split of The Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) In Zimbabwe
Past President of the AFM in Zimbabwe Reverend Aspher Madziyire fell out with his (then) deputy Reverend Cossam Chiangwa over proposed amendments to the church constitution.
The church effectively split into two when Chiangwa, together with the national workers’ council passed a vote of no confidence against Madziyire and his administration in September 2018. Madziyire was accused of tinkering with the constitution to defer the elections and extend his executive stay in power.
Following the “coup” Madziyire approached the High Court to nullify the outcome of the gathering arguing that it was against the church’s constitution.
The High Court ruled in favour of Reverend Madziyire and declared him the bonafide leader of the church in September 2019. Reverend Chiangwa and his followers were barred from using the name of the church or any of its assets.
In his ruling, High Court judge Justice David Mangota said,
“The respondents (Chiangwa and his followers) are hereby barred from accessing or using any assets or property of any kind belonging to the church.
“The respondents and their followers or agents or assignees be and are hereby directed to relinquish to the church all and any property belonging to the church that is in possession or under control of the respondents.”
Reverend Chiangwa and his faction were aggrieved by this ruling and appealed to the Supreme Court just days following the High Court ruling.
The appeal was heard by Supreme Court judges, Justice Susan Mavangira, Justice Lavender Makoni and Justice Samuel Kudya. The judges dismissed Chiangwa’s application and slapped him with the costs of the lawsuit.
In dismissing, the application, the Supreme Court judges noted that Chiangwa did not have any legal standing to file the lawsuit.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said in part,
The applicants brought this application as office-bearers of the Church, which they were not. They, therefore, lacked the legal capacity to do so. The court a quo held correctly held that they did not have the locus standi to institute proceedings on behalf of the Church.
Reverend Madziyire was later succeeded by Reverend Amon Madawo as the President of the AFM In Zimbabwe while the legal battles were still being resolved.