AFM pastors retain marriage officers’ role

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BY CHARLES LAITON

THE High Court has ruled in favour of Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) Church pastors and ordered Registrar-General (RG), Clemence Masango, to provide the church ministers with marriage registers and stationery to enable them to continue solemnising marriages.

High Court judge Justice Christopher Dube-Banda made the ruling on February 5, 2020 following an application by the church on behalf of its pastors.

Early this year, AFM Church approached the High Court on an urgent basis seeking an order declaring that the decision taken by Masango to deny its pastors marriage registers and stationery was “illegal, invalid, void and of no legal effect”.

According to the court papers, the basis upon which Masango had taken his position was that the leadership wrangle between Bishop Aspher Madziyire and Reverend Cossam Chiangwa was still on-going since the latter had appealed Madziyire’s victory to the Supreme Court.

Masango said he had stopped issuing marriage registers and stationery to pastors of both factions pending the determination of the appeal by the Apex Court.

But in his determination, Justice Dube-Banda said by declaring the faction led by Madziyire the lawful faction, the court was not conferring any rights to the faction but merely confirming the existing rights.

“Therefore an appeal against a declaratory order must be an exception to the general rule, which says that the noting of an appeal in a civil case automatically suspends the execution of any order granted by the court of first instance,” Justice Dube-Banda said.

“…I find that the applicant (AFM) has an arguable case, on the point that the noting of an appeal did not suspend its pastor’s right to solemnise marriages, therefore its pastors must continue performing that function pending the confirmation or discharge of this provisional order…the respondent (Registrar General) shall provide or make available for the applicant’s pastors all marriage registers and stationery required from time to time to execute their duties as marriage officers.”