HARARE – A move to change the Apostolic Faith Mission of Zimbabwe (AFM) constitution to allow the church’s president Aspher Madziyire to continue leading for two more years after a scheduled December congress provoked angry scenes yesterday in which laity waved placards against their leader.
Madziyire, 63, has led the AFM for 19 years. He was supposed to stand for re-election this month, but brought constitutional changes allegedly meant to delay elections until 2019. The proposed constitution proposes removing the stipulation a presidential candidate cannot be more than 65-years-old, but can be up to 75, something which church members say opens the door for him to be president for life.
Over 100 pastors from across the country’s denominations met in Harare yesterday to table their concerns, which they wanted Madziyire to respond to. Madziyire, who was reportedly invited to the meeting, did not turn up, amid indications that he together with other members of the executive had organised a counter meeting in the Harare central business district.
Efforts to get a response from Madziyire were fruitless as his mobile phone was unreachable.
Speaking to journalists at the meeting, Togarepi Mapingure said the hullabaloo arose from a draft constitution that Madziyire would like to introduce.
“AFM was also supposed to be going for elections by the end of this year, we were supposed to be electing the new president, the changes are actually meant to delay the elections to 2019, and we are saying it has become more of a power struggle within the system, which eventually affects the survival of the church,” Mapingure said.
He said there is a lot of anxiety within the pastors fraternity which is emanating from the draft constitution that has been circulating, which is pitting most elders of the church, who have been traditionally running the affairs of the church.
“There has been a deliberate shift, or deliberate attempt by those who are doing the constitution to shift the church from being a Presbyterian church to being a congregational church and there are a lot of consequences, which are coming as a result of the proposed changes,” Mapingure said.
Some of the concerns border around the demand by the church for each pastor to raise at least $50 000 per year from their denominations, a figure which they said is not achievable and turns the church into a business entity.
Some of the banners waved read: “$50 000 pagore tave mapurisa here? (we cannot raise the $50 000 target per year, are we police officers?). Several of the pastors held placards denouncing the way the church is being run.
According to the pastors, they are also challenging the need to centralise church funds, which they said is a destructive move, considering the institution’s books have not been audited over the past 15 years.