Chrispen Mazhange told the court that he has been an AFM pastor since 1991, but claimed he was recently shown the exit door on unclear accusations.
“This application concerns unlawful conduct and infringement of my rights as an ordained pastor and employee of the respondent (AFM) who has been suspended and dismissed from work unlawfully.
“In 2016, a plethora of unfounded allegations were levelled against me by the board at provincial level. It is these allegations that led to a verbal invitation to attend a round-table meeting at provincial level by the overseer, Stanford Nyamande,” he said.
He said to his surprise, the round-table meeting on December 21, 2016, was turned into a disciplinary hearing.
“My plight is that I was not served with any allegations at the provincial level and the hearing was characterised by verbal accusations and counter-accusations. The provisions of the church constitution and regulations on hearings were not followed.
“My side of the story was never considered as well and to my surprise, immediately after the hearing, I was advised that an erroneous letter had been transmitted to the national office indicating that no assembly in the province was ready to accept me as a pastor,” Mazhange said.
He said that the board that dealt with his case was not properly constituted as it only had two people, adding that there was no proper investigation that was conducted in the case.
He further said that he was never served with the outcome of the so-called disciplinary hearing, but was surprised to get communication to the effect that the whole Mashonaland East province had rejected him, including his assembly.
“Only then did it become apparent to me that this matter had been a well-planned plot against me, chiefly to flush me out of the system and tarnish my good image.
“The sorriest fact of all (is that) no decision was made although the provincial board went ahead making public announcements that I was no longer a pastor at my assembly and barring me from conducting services. Although the province is the one that had dealt with the matter, it refused to deliver judgment or to explain what the nature of proceedings I was facing were,” he said.
He further told the court that his side of the story was never heard, as he was forced to write a transfer letter, before being told that he would only be paid his salary for three months, even though he had not been served with a letter of dismissal.
Mazhange is now seeking a court order declaring the actions of the church unlawful.
“The relief is that I have to be restored to my lawful position as pastor of my Shekinah Assembly once this honourable court declares that the respondent’s conduct in dealing with me was unlawful and infringing on my rights,” he said, adding that his rights to a fair hearing had been infringed.
However, the church in its response through an affidavit by the human resources manager Aaron Muduwiwa, said that Mazhange had distorted the facts of the matter and that the case could not be determined based on the papers that he brought before the court.
“The applicant has approached this honourable court with dirty hands and must not be entertained in this court,” the church said, adding that Mazhange had flouted the organisation’s constitution on numerous occasions, by not following instructions from his seniors.
“Instead of conducting services, the applicant has been engaging in activities that bring doubt to his sanity such as standing up in the middle of a service and taking pictures, in the process disrupting the flow of the service,” the court heard.
The church also said that Mazhange had not been dismissed from employment but was simply being transferred.
It further said that the pastor risked being assaulted by church members because of his conduct and had to be protected through a transfer.
The matter awaits ruling.-Weekendpost