ONE of the local biggest apostolic sects, the African Apostolic Church (AAC), is embroiled in a leadership wrangle as the sons of the aged church founder Bishop Paul Mwazha are angling to take over the reins.
Bishop Mwazha turns 100 this year.
Last week, The Sunday Mail Religion visited Odzi area in Manicaland where the church was gathering for its annual Holy Communion service. Senior church officials said the Holy Communion was not shared because Bishop Mwazha was not feeling well.
However, AAC secretary Bishop Richard Juru said the congregation could not partake the communion as the huge crowd of 6 000 members had not been anticipated.
He denied that the church was rocked by a leadership fight, insisting that Bishop Mwazha was still in charge, although he could not preach for hours due to old age and health challenges.
“The Bishop is now very old and we cannot allow you to see him because he needs to rest. His last born son, Bishop Tawanda Mwazha, will explain everything about the church,” said Bishop Juru.
However, Bishop Tawanda refused to discuss the matter. One of the Mwazha sons who spoke on condition of anonymity said his father’s health nose-dived after the death of their mother, Mbuya Joyce Makaonesu Mwazha last year.
“The Bishop is turning 100 this year and age is taking a toll on him. Psychologically, he is not well but we feel this is not the right time to open up to the congregation lest it creates chaos. We have a lot to settle although I cannot go into details now,” he said.
Another senior church pastor said with the founding Bishop’s failing health, Bishop Tawanda had assumed church leadership, a move that is strongly opposed by his elder brothers.
“All his sons are Bishops but the last born son is in charge. He is not yet formally ordained because Bishop Mwazha is still alive and his elder brothers are resisting,” he said.
The pastor also believes the leadership wrangle is the main reason why the Holy Communion was not served.
“Since the church’s inception, the Holy Communion is blessed and served to the bishops by ‘Mutumwa’ (Bishop Mwazha). Then the Bishops in turn will serve pastors who will share with the congregants. However, with the situation at hand, who will bless the communion?
“It was better off to cancel the communion service because no one could bless it. Doing so without the church leader’s blessing is equal to partaking an unholy communion.”
A church member, Mr Austin Chikeya said, “The church uses biscuits and raspberry drink for the Holy Communion, so if they say the communion couldn’t be served because of the unanticipated high numbers, why did they not just buy more?
“There is certainly more to it than meets the eye. The leadership issue is at the centre of it all,” he said.
ACC has a following of over 1,2 million people and close to 300 new members were baptised last week.