Supreme Court upholds BIGOCA leadership dissolution

THE prolonged leadership wrangle within Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA) involving overseer Reverend Peter Ndhlovu and other church members has come to an end as the Supreme Court has upheld the consent judgment of March 20, 2015 which was entered by Elder John Mwanza and others. The Supreme Court has set aside an appeal by Reverend Ndhlovu in a matter he was challenging a decision of High Court judge Gertrude Chawatama to prohibit him from parading himself as BIGOCA overseer.

In this matter, Elder Mwanza and 27 others had in 2013 dragged Rev Ndhlovu and 23 others to court for masquerading as church leaders and violating the BIGOCA constitution.

A panel of three Supreme Court judges – Deputy Chief Justice Michael Musonda, Justice Evans Hamaundu and Justice Jane Kabuka – on May 7, 2019 dissolved the old leadership structure of the church and ordered that a general council be convened in which new leaders will be elected.

Earlier, when the matter was sent to mediation in 2015, Rev Ndhlovu had conceded that he was not the legitimate bishop of BIGOCA.

A consent judgment was then entered by the plaintiff and the defendants in which it was agreed that Rev Ndhlovu and Rev Kanyenda shall be ratified by the general council as Bishop and Administrative secretary respectively and would be retired with full benefits to be worked out by the council.

The parties agreed that the 2001 constitution of BIGOCA which was lodged with the Registrar of Societies was the only valid constitution of the church.

The parties had agreed that the regional bishops shall revert to their original positions as pastors but would be eligible to be appointed to any high office by the general council or by the new leadership.

It was agreed that the ownership, possession or occupation of property or premises in Garden, George and Bauleni improvement areas or elsewhere would be heard and determined by High Court judge Getrude Chawatama in proceedings pending before her.

The church members and the leaders had resolved that pastors’ wives should not automatically become pastors unless they have undergone necessary training for the purpose.

The parties had also resolved that an ad hoc committee consisting of representatives from both sides would be established for the purpose of convening the general council.

However, Rev Ndhlovu and his faction were not delighted with the resolution to remove them from their positions and challenged the decision before justice Chawatama.

But judge Chawatama dismissed the application by the aggrieved party to challenge the resolutions of the consent judgment.

Rev Ndhlovu and 23 others further appealed the matter in the Supreme Court challenging the High Court’s decision.

The defendants had stated that judge Chawatama had misdirected herself when she refused then to appeal against the resolutions of the consent judgment.

The Supreme Court judges have since upheld the decision of the lower court and directed that the agreements of the consent judgment should be effected and that a general council for the election of new leaders should be held within a period of 90 days.

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