Zimbabwe High Court Judge Rules Church Tithes Are Free Will Offerings Which Can Only Be Recovered from God

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Church contributions are ‘free will offerings’ which can only be recovered from God, a High Court Judge has said.

Photo of Owen Tagu

Photo of Owen Tagu

In a recent ruling in which he dismissed Mr Upenyu Mashangwa and his wife Blessing ‘s  $6,5 million lawsuit against Prophet Makandiwa and his wife Prophetess Ruth, High Court Judge Owen Tagu, said the claim to recover tithes and offerings was frivolous.

The Mashangwa couple — former UFIC members between 2014 and 2016, claimed that were called on to the church stage during service by Prophet Makandiwa to parade them as an epitome of success. Consequently, they made varying church offerings and tithes amounting to $1,1 million which they later claimed back after quitting UFIC.

Tithes constitute 10 percent of the giver’s income.

Justice Tagu said tithes and offerings are biblical concepts recorded in the Holy Bible as early as the Book of Genesis. He said, “Tithes and offerings are acts of worship that edifies the relationship between the person who gives the offering and God. They are predicated on the believers’ faith and are not enforced. They are free will offerings given in all Christian Churches.

“However, what makes the claim frivolous and vexatious in my view, is the fact that if ever the respondents parted with such kind of money inside the third applicant (UFIC) those were free will offerings not recoverable from anyone unless the respondents (Mashangwa) wish to try the impossible and get that from God the Receiver of the offerings. How they hope to get a court to interpret scripture and say one reading is preferable to another in the Holy Bible remains a mystery.”

Justice Tagu also trashed the Mashangwa’s claim that Prophet Makandiwa gave them a prophecy over a debt cancellation involving $500 000 which they owed to a local bank.

The Mashangwa couple lost a Marlborough house as a result of the unpaid debt. The High Court judge in his ruling noted that the same house had been sold to Nemanji Family Trust for $800 000.

Justice Tagu added that the business couple could not ignore their debt because they had borrowed the money in terms of positive law and not ecclesiastical law.

Even in the Bible, he said, God told Adam that he would eat from his sweat.

“This is loosely translated to mean that there is nothing for free and every man shall work hard to achieve what he wanted until death and that God would give them power and wisdom to achieve their goals and not just expect miracles to happen on their own.

“If Makandiwas talked season of miraculous cancellation of debts he did not literally mean those with debts should go home and just sit waiting for debts to be miraculously wiped without them doing something about them,” he said.

“Hence the claim was based on falsehoods meant to annoy, vex and harass the applicants and without any bona fide intention of obtaining relief.”

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