Nhlalwenhle Ngwenya/ Gibson Mhaka
THE Twelve Apostolic Church of Christ in Cowdray Park has been rocked by fierce leadership squabbles amid revelations that congregants in support of the two leaders fighting for the control of the church’s branch are allegedly being involved in running battles during church services.
So nasty are the battles that those who are in support of the church’s deputy General Overseer Physant Kikins who is based in Plumtree are barring “suspended” Bishop Manners Ngwenya and his supporters from attending and presiding over church services.
Last Sunday youths opposed to “ousted” Bishop Ngwenya’s camp turned riotous and blocked him from conducting the service. They burst into song and dance each time he took to the pulpit to preach. The disturbances did not go down well with Bishop Ngwenya’s sympathisers who ran riot and started beating Kikins’ supporters.
The differences reportedly started after the suspension of Bishop Ngwenya on 18 May last year after he suggested that their church should be registered with Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ). Following the suspension Ngwenya’s followers remain defiant and described it as null and void.
A vendor who identified himself as Ncube and witnessed the skirmish on Sunday said business came to a standstill at the church when youths were involved in running battles. Ncube said one of Bishop Kikins’ sympathisers grabbed the microphone from Bishop Ngwenya accusing him of fanning hatred in the church.
“The church service only lasted for a few minutes after congregants belonging to the two church leaders (Overseer Kikins and Bishop Ngwenya) started fighting each other. Bishop Ngwenya’s garment was torn in the midst of the scuffle.
A church member who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said Bishop Kikins allegedly mobilised youths some of who are not even members of the church to protest against Bishop Ngwenya.
“Considering last Sunday’s fierce clashes I am planning not to go to the church anymore until the disputes are resolved because I might be injured. It was really an embarrassing episode to see congregants fighting and ridiculing each other during the service,” said a church member who insisted on anonymity.
Although, both Bishop Kikins and Ngwenya were not reached for comment by the time of going to print, their fight has since spilled into court. Bishop Kikins approached the Bulawayo Civil Court seeking a peace order to bar Bishop Ngwenya from conducting any service at the church’s Cowdray Park branch.
In his affidavit Bishop Kikins stated,
“I am the ordained Bishop of the Twelve Apostolic Church of Christ also holding the position of Deputy General Overseer and hereby confirm that Bishop Manners Ngwenya was suspended by the church from duty on 18 May 2015.
“Despite his suspension Bishop Ngwenya is harassing church members and causing a lot of disorder at the church’s branch in Cowdray Park.
“In light of his actions we request for a peace order be granted against him and that he should not be allowed to conduct any service in any of the church branches throughout Zimbabwe.”
Bishop Ngwenya, in his opposing affidavit he said his rival does not have the authority to bar him from holding services at any of their church’s branches in the country.
“Bishop Kikins has no authority to bar anyone from attending church services at Cowdray Park branch as an individual. That could be possible if the applicant was acting on behalf of the church.
“If it is to be taken that applicant is acting for the church, then it means this court has no jurisdiction to deal with the matter as it will be a class action. Applicant is infact barred from acting for the church or interfering with any work in the church in terms of the High Court order HC1976 /15.
“Applicant is not a deputy general overseer. Infact there is no such position in terms of the constitution of the Twelve Apostolic Church of Christ. This clearly confirms that his allegations are mere fabrications meant to stop me from conducting my duties as a bishop,” reads part of his affidavit.
Bishop Kikins’ application was however, dismissed after he reported late for the court session.