Sunday, 27 October 2019

ANOTHER CHURCH WAR ERUPTS IN ZIM


 A leadership wrangle has erupted in the Mugodhi Apostolic Church with one of the church elders, Tony Sigauke, angling to snatch power from the late church leader’s son, Washington Mugodhi.

Archbishop Tadewu Mugodhi succumbed to cancer at a local private hospital a fortnight ago.

He was 79. Prior to his death, he is said to have anointed his son to take over, a development which did not go down well with Sigauke and his loyalists.

If the two camps do not find each other soon, this might become the church’s third major split since it was founded by Elijah Mugodhi in 1932.

Elijah had split from Apostolic Faith Church (AFC).  Before starting his own ministry, Elijah rose through the AFC’s ranks to become the church’s secretary general. However, in his early years of ministry, he disagreed with AFC leaders when he requested to marry a second wife.

Together with elders Kunonga, Machakaire, Matigi and Chakuvinda — Elijah established a new church. 

Years later, Kunonga, who was now a senior elder, had a fall-out with Elijah as he (Kunonga) and Machakaire wanted to ban polygamy in the church.

The fall-out resulted in the Mugodhi church’s first split.

Elijah fell ill and on his deathbed, he appointed a church elder, Chakuvinda, as the interim leader since his own son Tadewu was still too young to assume leadership.

The Sunday Mail Society spoke to Nyasha Chivhuna, the church’s chief advisor to the Bishop, who narrated the church’s history.

He revealed that despite the fact that Elijah handed over the church’s leadership to Chakuvinda, he did not hand over the Bible, garments and rod to him as is the norm when a new leader comes into power.

When Chakuvinda also died, Tadewu was still too young to assume the church’s leadership. Therefore, leadership was handed over to another elder in the church – Chikwena. 

“Although Tadewu was still young, Chikwena felt it was time to start grooming him. So, he would call him into crucial meetings,” said Chivhuna.

Fast forward to 1992, Chikwena died, with Tadewu still learning.

Mubvuyiwa, one of the elders, became the interim leader.  Before his death, Mubvuyiwa announced that it was time to return power to Tadewu – the rightful heir. It is said this did not go down well with another church elder, Muringani.

This led to a second split in 2002.

“He clearly said he was not going to be led by the young man and founded his own church, Sangano Revapostori,” said Chivhuna.

The Bible, garments and rod were then handed over to Tadewu in 2002 as he took the leadership of the church.

For close to seven decades, the church had operated without a constitution.

But, when Tadewu came into power, there were some changes since he was a modern leader. He championed the drafting of the church constitution in 2004, with seven elders overseeing the process. 

Chivhuna said the constitution had clarity with regards to the church leadership’s succession. “Tadewu requested to have the constitution clear on the leadership issue. ln the event of his demise, his son would take over. This was Elijah’s vision at the church’s inception,” said Chivhuna.

The constitution also addressed the issue of congregants accessing medical health and allowing children to be immunised, giving them the permission to do so. Prior to this, if a congregant sought medical health, they were supposed to be cleansed first before donning church regalia again. If one died in hospital, congregants were not allowed to wear church uniforms at the funeral.

However, for years, the constitution was never shared with congregants.

Chivhuna claims that even Tadewu never accessed it.  Unbeknown to him, according to Chivhuna, some of the clauses the leader had asked to be enshrined in the constitution were not included.

“They felt he was exercising too much power,” said Chivhuna.

Unaware of the betrayal, in August just before his death, Tadewu thanked the church pastors for the work they had done on the constitution and even announced that his son Washington (42) would take over in the event of his death. 

Much to the amazement of congregants, the pastors told Tadewu, without mincing their words, that they had not included that succession clause in the constitution.

“Sigauke made it clear that they had deceived Tadewu,” revealed Chivhuna.

However, Sigauke refutes the allegations that he deceived the late leader. He maintains that the late Tadewu attempted to violate the church’s constitution by appointing his son to take over.  In an interview, Sigauke told The Sunday Mail Society that when the constitution was written, Tadewu was present. He is even said to have endorsed it.

“It has his signature. We were together in coming up with the constitution and we all proceeded to the High Court where we signed it in harmony. So, his deathbed wish is actually a violation of the constitution, which I together with other elders do not agree with,” said Sigauke.

To add salt to injury, Sigauke and his followers argued that their late leader was not supposed to be buried in Chitope, the church’s headquarters in Hwedza.

They said that by appointing his son, Tadewu had become unholy and a church outcast. 

Nonetheless, Chivhuna said Washington is currently learning the ropes with the assistance of some church elders. He said the young leader is set to take the reins at the church early next year. Sunday Mail

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