BY CHARLES LAITON
THE High Court has brought to an end a leadership wrangle that had threatened to cripple Mugodhi Apostolic Faith Church’s operations after ruling that the current vice-bishop, Tonnie Sigauke, must assume the leadership role, taking over from the founder, Bishop Tandewu Mugodhi, who is incapacitated as a result of terminal illness.
Justice Owen Tagu made a determination on September 4, 2019, after the church petitioned the court seeking an order to interdict Tandewu from appointing his son Washington as the acting vice-bishop and to act on his behalf.
Justice Tagu further said Tandewu’s move was a breach of the church’s constitution since the church already had a vice-bishop, adding that he (Tandewu) also visited the hospital in circumstances not provided for in the church’s constitution and must, therefore, be cleansed.
“In casu the first respondent (Tandewu Mugodhi) is clearly about to breach the constitution of the church by appointing his son, the second respondent (Washington) as an acting vice-bishop to assume his role because he is now incapacitated by illness when there is a vice-bishop already who can assume his duties in an acting capacity,” Justice Tagu said.
“Secondly, whether right or wrong, the first respondent has visited the hospital in circumstances not provided for in the constitution.
He is now dirty in the eyes of the church and must first of all confess and elders must lay hands on him before he is readmitted to carry out his duties. Clearly, the first respondent must be interdicted. The court will, therefore, grant the interdict on terms that are clearer.”
According to the church, sometime in February this year, Tandewu fell ill and was diagnosed of a terminal illness for which he is currently undergoing treatment.
The church further said as a result of the illness, the bishop was now unable to perform his normal duties and “has been making fatal decisions which are affecting the church negatively”.
On August 10, 2019, the ailing bishop is said to have called a meeting with the board of ministers together with their vice-bishops and pastors, where he made a pronouncement that his son was now holding the office of vice-bishop.
This did not go down well with the church which then petitioned the court seeking to bar the bishop from making unilateral decisions.
“The first respondent be and is hereby interdicted from carrying out his duties until he has been cleansed in terms of the applicant’s constitution. The first, second, third and fourth respondents (Tandewu, Washington, Innocent and Enock Mugodhi) together with their families be and are hereby interdicted from interfering in the operations of the applicant,” Justice Tagu said.
“The pronouncement by the first respondent that the second respondent is now the acting vice-bishop be and is hereby declared unlawful. The vice-bishop, Tonnie Sigauke be and is hereby confirmed as acting bishop.”