UNITED Family International Church (Ufic) leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and his wife, Ruth, who are embroiled in a $6,5 million litigation over an alleged “false prophecy”, will now have to defend themselves in an open court following the setting down of the matter by the registrar of the High Court.
The litigation, which was filed sometime last year by former Ufic congregants, Upenyu Mashangwa and his wife, Blessing, after the latter allegedly fell prey to a prophecy which promised them a “debt cancellation miracle”.
The matter will now be heard on November 5, 2018.
“Take notice that this matter (Upenyu Mashangwa versus Emmanuel Makandiwa) has been set down for hearing on the opposed roll before Honourable (Owen) Tagu J on November 5, 2018 in Court L as Number 2 at 10am,” the notice of set-down signed by M Sithole for the registrar read.
After receiving the summons, Makandiwa and his wife, through their lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, filed an exception application in September 2017, urging the court to decline entertaining the matter on the basis that secular courts could not deal with matters of faith, church practice and doctrine.
But High Court judge Justice David Mangota dismissed the Makandiwas’ application, saying Mashangwas’ claims were centred on alleged fraudulent activities.
The impasse between the two couples came about when Makandiwa and his wife were last year slapped with a multi-million litigation after the Mashangwas allegedly realised the so-called debt cancellation miracle had failed to come to fruition, but, instead, their business had started nosediving.
However, the Makandiwas filed a court application early this year, challenging the business couples’ litigation, saying the lawsuit against them was a “grandstanding to harass, vex and injure their reputation and good standing”.
In his affidavit filed through his lawyers Manase and Manase, Makandiwa denied ever making the couple’s “debt cancellation prophecy”, adding the business couple lost their house, if any, to a third party, which matter had nothing to do with the church.
Apparently, some correspondences between the business couple and the Ufic leader will show that at some point, the Makandiwas admitted their intention to refund the business couple after setting out some conditions, but later made a U-turn, claiming the couple’s tithes were non-refundable.
On February 13, 2017, Ufic’s finance director, one E Hwenga, after receiving a letter from the Mashangwas demanding their tithes back, responded acknowledging receipt of the same, but went on to set down some conditions under which the monies would be refunded.
“We, refer to the above captioned reference and to your letter of February 4 (2017) addressed to the Prophet (Makandiwa). Your letter has been referred to us for a response. We wish to categorically state from the onset, that any tithe from congregants in our flock is a free will offering which for all intents and purposes is non-refundable …
however, the prophet has instructed us to pay you back as you demand to ensure that you are satisfied and feel fully recompensed. He has, however, instructed us to pay you under the following conditions only,” Hwenga wrote outlining the conditions among them requesting that the Mashangwas produce receipts as proof of payment which they later did.
On March 6, 2017, Makandiwa’s lawyers again wrote to Mashangwa’s lawyers then, Messrs Mutamangira and Associates, emphasising and reiterating their client’s position regarding the demanded refund.
“As your client (Mashangwa) might be well aware, our client (Ufic) has no legal obligation to refund a free will offering and is well within its rights to do so. However, for purposes of peace, our client insists on all the conditions set out in its letter,” Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners said.
On March 14, 2017, Mashangwa’s lawyers hit back, insisting that the Ufic leaders had an obligation to pay, particularly considering their client’s basis for the claim.
“Your client (Makandiwa) specifically undertook to refund any person who claims all that he or she has given to the church. Your client being a person of integrity cannot surely deny what he publicly stated. We appreciate that this undertaking might have been made without anticipation that someone bold as our client would step up and out and claim all that she has given to the ministry which from the look of things is no means significant,” Mashangwa’s lawyers said, giving reference to receipts amounting to $700 000.
“For a sum of more than $700 000 to have been given by our client to your client during a period of harsh economic times, is shocking to anyone, more shocking will be how your client who claims to be a man of peace and understanding will want to fight, given the genuine reasons our client has raised.”
The lawyers further said: “… For the record, our clients has no intention of fighting Prophet Makandiwa and Prophetess Makandiwa. There might have been disagreements, but it is not within their nature to pick up unnecessary fights”.