POLITICKING has reached fever pitch in Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe ahead of elections for the church’s leadership.
Sources said the church’s president, Dr Aspher Madziyire and his deputy, Reverend Cossum Chiangwa, are at loggerheads as the former is against the latter’s intention to stand for presidency.
Rev Chiangwa is said to have altered his birthday in order to qualify for the presidency.
At the moment, Rev Amon Chinyemba is said to be the favourite for the post.
Dr Madziyire, who has led the church for the past 15 years, is said to be irked by the fact that he is of the same age as his deputy who intends to succeed him.
The church’s elections, which are conducted after three years, were due this month but have since been postponed pending the amendment of the church’s constitution.
Leading the amendment process is lawyer Mr Tawanda Nyambirai, who leads AFM’s constitutional reforms and is believed to be Rev Chiangwa’s cover.
Sources say Dr Madziyire threatened to expose bad files of “misbehaving people backing Rev Chiangwa if they continue to pursue their vendetta”.
In an audio recording in possession of The Sunday Mail Society, Dr Madziyire, speaking to Togarepi Mapingure, said he was fighting a court case and paying lawyers to access court information so that when the election dates are announced, they will stand unchallenged.
In the audio clip, Dr Madziyire said he advised Rev Chinyemba not to campaign for presidency and wait patiently for the post as campaigning is only done in the political world.
“Right now I am calling the senior elders that I may have audience with them, then I will talk to them. I am meeting them on Friday. Then after that I will have the backing of people who we call the real AFM.
“If you just rush as you are rushing with your youngsters you won’t bring out anything because you will bring out immature things. I should have ground that I know I have from the legal side, court, church wherever (sic). You are challenging a person who is a lawyer who knows what he is doing.
“Because if we are going to be fighting with (Mr) Nyambirai we won’t be fighting Nyambirai, we will be fighting Beatrice,” Dr Madziyire said.
“So you must know that we must have good standing. Now when I tell you all this you then reveal it on social media that father (Dr Madziyire) is doing this. We don’t do that…
“What I just want to tell you is I am fighting for you that the person you want to be overseer will stay there. Leave me to sort out your road for you. I know you don’t like me, just be patient and allow me to sort out your things to go well,” added Dr Madziyire.
Some of the national pastors want to do away with the Workers Council and proceed with the elections.
AFM is led by a president and Apostolic Council which is elected for a three-year term and can be extended upon re-election.
The Apostolic Council run the church on behalf of the Supreme Board, which is the National Workers Council. Both the National Workers Council and Apostolic Councils are chaired by the president.
Reports are that plans are to ensure that Rev Chiangwa does not contest for the overseer’s seat, which will grant him an opportunity to contest for the presidency.
In the audio clip, Dr Madziyire flexes his muscle as he pledges to assist the interested candidate (Rev Nyemba) by highlighting that if he didn’t set the platform for him, he would just light a fire and leave the house (AFM) burning.
“You will suffer with your president who is not stable. What I just want to tell you Mapingure is that trust me, I know what I am doing. By Monday I will have an answer.
“I cannot tell you where I was having troubles because if you are fighting with inside people, those who are overseers, those who say they stand with you, I can’t reveal all my cards. I want to advise you when you become an overseer how to handle the office when you are now grown. Not to just run revealing everything, you will be killed before you have done anything,” Dr Madziyire warned.
“I am a pastor so as a pastor I cannot put a policy that kills a person, that’s all you know. If I was evil I was going to expose all your friends long back. You know their stories starting from Mutaka, there are women from Rusape with his children, you know it. So if I was evil I was going to expose it. All those boys that you work with, you are the only one I don’t have files about from overseas.
“Gwaendepi was writing bad about me, fighting me and I saw it. Writing all the things he had been sent to write. He said it was the overseer he was talking to. Then I said reveal who it is you were talking to, there is no one else but Chinyemba.
“Chinyemba persuaded me saying please give Gwaendepi a place after he had proposed to a married woman and he was chased out of the ministry. And we said we won’t discipline him let’s find him a place in Mvuma. Now you wake up tomorrow selling me out.”
Dr Madziyire continued with his exposes, saying he was left with only a year before leaving, and that he is benefiting nothing from the national position.
“Right now Nyambira is not talking to me. I blocked him on my phone because we don’t agree. What I want to tell you is do not fight for everyone, what do you get from fighting for everyone and your family is destroyed?
“Even if you were not there, God had a plan that we will get out of the trap that had been set for us by Nyambirai. But you want to take God’s place and fight yourself. Do you know people are laughing at you? You don’t create things that will be a curse to your children. What Nyambirai did was murderous and it destroys our children’s church.
“Nyambirai and his fellows did things at the wrong time. The method they are using is wrong.. If I see you being cheeky I will leave you to continue. My name was smeared long back. So I will just abandon everything but it destroys the church as a whole. If you hadn’t married my daughter, I would leave you to be cursed,” Dr Madziyire warned Pastor Mapingure.
Dr Madziyire seems to have considerable supporty in the church.
A source said all the pastors who had been demanding for Rev Chiangwa’s original birthday had been summoned to his provincial offices.
“He has become a dictator in our church and is power hungry to the extent of sponsoring other junior pastors to rise against current president, Dr Madziyire.
“Dr Madziyire is being accused of trying to hold on to power but the issue of amending the constitution was supposed to have been done in February last year.
“Dr Madziyire agreed to it so that elections would be held smoothly but Rev Chiangwa suggested they be held last month to create an impression that (Dr) Madziyire does not want to leave the post. Dr Madziyire did not see the resistance coming and agreed to the move.
“It was politics at play to ensure he appears to be the good person. He is now saying he is against the timing of the new constitution, which could delay elections,” the source said.
There are also allegations that Rev Chiangwa has been spreading rumours and information about Harare East overseer, Rev Amon Chinyemba, who is reportedly the front runner to be the next president.
“He has been spreading bad rumors and information about Harare East overseer Amon Chinyemba, who is the front runner to be the next AFM president (with) allegations ranging from fraud, abuse of office and being a womaniser.
“As pastors from Harare West and East, all we want is for things to be done properly with qualifying candidates contesting, not old man wanting to remain young,” the source added.
Dr Madziyire and Rev Chiangwa’s phones where unavailable at the time of going to print.
In December last year, AFM secretary-general, Rev Amon Madawo confirmed there were amendments to be done to the constitution, saying it was vague.
This, he said, had resulted in several court contests emanating from differing interpretations of the constitution.
The Apostolic Council decides when the elections will be held. It also approves any amendments to the constitution.
Infighting has rocked the AFM church for years.
In December last year, national pastors convened at Living Waters Theological Seminary, objecting to the fast tracking of the church’s constitutional reforms.
Canvassing for support and smear campaigns seem to have gone a gear up in the church, possibly inspired by material gain and control of systems.
It is said overseers receive offerings from as many as 35 churches during provincial meetings at Holy Communion. There is also an honorary event held for the pastors on Christmas. In addition, allowances of $500 are paid to the pastors and their wives during meetings. Some of the overseers are known to lead luxurious lives with various properties locally and abroad.
Pastors who dare to raise their voices are reportedly sent to rural assemblies while budding pastors are brought into the cities.