THE African Apostolic Church (AAC), which is now split between the leader, Apostle Paul Mwazha’s second born son, Alfred Kushamisa and last born son, Tawanda Israel, is grappling with the emergence of yet another splinter group following the eldest son, Ngonidzashe’s return to the church, The Manica Post has established.
With the AAC now officially split between Alfred Kushamisa and Tawanda Israel, both of them have assumed the bishop title.
But Ngonidzashe, who all along was a member of Johane Marange Apostolic Church, has since reverted to his father’s church and is now enjoying considerable support within the AAC.
His recent sermons such as the well-attended Eastview pilgrimage last Saturday in Harare are evidence of how some members of the church are warming up to him.
The elderly AAC leader, Apostle Mwazha, popularly referred to as Mudzidzisi, Mutumwa or Archbishop, turns 103 this year.
The Mwazha divisions, which are not only felt in Zimbabwe, but in neighbouring South Africa and Botswana, have seen each of the formations appointing its own pastors and leaders while conducting services at different places of worship.
When contacted for comment, Chiseko Mwazha, who is also Apostle Mwazha’s son and is backing Tawanda Israel, said he was not aware of the splits.
“We do not know anything about the existence of another faction in the church. If someone is conducting their church services elsewhere, it is their business and we know nothing about that.
“We are only doing what we were told by Mutumwa (Apostle Mwazha). All the leaders and pastors in our church were appointed by Mutumwa. Whatever others are doing has nothing to do with us,” said Chiseko.
Speaking on Ngonidzashe’s moves, Chiseko said the elder Mwazha is not part of AAC.
“Ngonidzashe did not return to us. He is not part of our church as far as we are concerned,” said Chiseko.
However, in a video taken in Harare last Saturday, which this newspaper is in possession of, Ngonidzashe is seen leading one of the AAC sermons with hundreds of congregants in attendance.
Alfred Kushamisa and Tawanda Israel were not part of that congregation.
Sources in the church confided in this newspaper that Ngonidzashe has gained popularity in the church owing to his healing powers that are believed to be a blessing from Archbishop Mwazha.
One of the nagging points in Ngonidzashe’s return, however, is that he is a polygamist, something that is not acceptable within AAC.
It is understood that a clause in the church’s standing rules stipulates that a polygamist can join the church, but will not be entrusted with a leadership role.
ACC secretary-general, Richard Juru, who is aligned to Alfred Kushamisa, refused to entertain questions from this publication.
“I cannot say anything about that issue. You can talk to Bishop AK himself,” he said.
Another Alfred Kushamisa sympathiser as well as the church’s publicity chairman, Patrick Tawanda Tafa’s mobile phone went unanswered.
Alfred Kushamisa, Tawanda Israel and Ngonidzashe were unreachable.
As the ACC drama continues to unfold, contrasting messages on who should be the Archbishop’s successor have been thrown around.
An audio clip purportedly recorded at a leadership meeting in the presence of Apostle Mwazhawas widely circulated among church members as a church leader – allegedly under the instruction from Apostle Mwazha – pronounced that Alfred Kushamisa is the rightful heir to the church’s throne.
In that clip, Tawanda Israel was given the role of administering the Holy Communion or annual last supper rites. In sharp contrast to that communiqué, in a video clip that was reportedly recorded in South Africa during a Passover gathering, Apostle Mwazha was captured saying Tawanda is his chosen successor.
“My son Tawanda is the one who was chosen by God to be my successor. God visited him in his house. He received my spiritual gift,” said Apostle Mwazha to wild applause.
But as more tension festers in the church, it has emerged that the fights go deeper than the leadership issue, amid stunning revelations that even prayer methods have been part of disharmony in one of the country’s leading indigenous churches.
Reliable sources within the church revealed that there have always been existing differences within the church, adding that the festering tension has only manifested through the succession wrangles.
Long and personal prayers, widely known within the church as “tsindondi”, have been a source of disharmony, with the church’s Board of Trustees insisting on pre-written and recited prayers.
— Manica Post