DIVISIONS in the African Apostolic Church (AAC), led by the ageing Archbishop Paul Mwazha, are widening after succession wrangles recently erupted into the public domain, amid contrasting messages on who should be the Archbishop’s successor.
Archbishop Mwazha, popularly known as Mudzidzisi, turns 102 this year.
Recently, there was an altercation between his second born son Alfred Mwazha and other family members at the Archbishop’s Hatfield residence in Harare.
Alfred is claiming to have been appointed successor by his father, while other family members argue that the Archbishop prefers his youngest son, Tawanda Mwazha, to succeed him.
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As the AAC succession feud unfolds, senior church officials seem to have picked sides between the feuding Mwazha brothers.
In a communiqué released this week by Archbishop Mwazha’s confidante, Bishop Richard Juru, the Bishop tried to shed some
light on how the church’s leadership should proceed.
Bishop Juru claimed that on February 28, 2020 at around 3am, Archibishop Mwazha was filled with the Holy Spirit and summoned his personal aide, Reverend EV Kasima, to record the spirit’s instructions on who should succeed him.
He went on to reveal that the contents of that message stated that the Archbishop’s youngest son, Tawanda, should lead the Passover feast because of his experience, while Alfred would be the leader of the church because of his seniority.
Bishop Juru said this was discussed at a meeting of the church’s leadership in Hatfield on March 19.
“That meeting was attended by 15 members, including the Priesthood Council (Archbishop Mwazha’s sons) and the Board of Trustees. Apostle Mwazha’s message, which had been written down by Rev Kasima, was read out to them,” said Bishop Juru, adding that no one disputed the contents of the message.
However, in sharp contrast to the said written communique, in a video clip that was reportedly recorded in South Africa during some Passover gathering, Apostle Mwazha was captured saying Bishop Tawanda was 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.
Even though media shy leaders of the church, including Bishops Tekeshe and Chikwiro, were reluctant to grant The Manica Post an interview, 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.
For example, long and personal prayers, widely known within the church as “tsindondi”, have been a source of disharmony, with a section of the church insisting on pre-written and recited prayers.
“We have always had our differences in the church and this was kept under wraps. Can you believe that the way we pray has seen some members clashing? Over the years, tsindondi has always been a source of disagreement, with some members preferring pre-written prayers,” said one source who preferred anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Another source indicated that the ongoing succession wrangle is not much of a surprise given the deep seated divisions that had been simmering.
“These succession wrangles do not come to us as a surprise because we knew it was always going to happen. With Mudzidzisi getting older and unable to control his sons and elders in the church, it was bound to happen that these people would fight for leadership. If it was not of the Covid-19 lockdown, we would be having two gatherings aligned to different leaders,” said the source.