Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter

THE Baptist Church has approached the High Court challenging the auctioning of its property in execution of a judgment ruled in favour of its former pastor fired for allegedly being “a dictator in the house of God.”

The fired clergyman, Rev Davison Mukandatsama had taken the church to court demanding US$15 355 and R16 000 in outstanding terminal benefits and salary arrears.

Rev Mukandatsama was sacked from the Beitbridge Baptist Church in September 2015 on three months’ notice after he resisted a resolution by the church council to be affiliated to the Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe (BCZ), which is the church’s local mother body.

He then approached the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order to register an arbitral award which was granted by the National Employment Council (NEC) in his favour.

The arbitral award was confirmed by the Labour Court on July 22 in 2016.

The application filed in terms of the Labour Act under case number HC162/18 sought to enforce the NEC arbitrator’s ruling ordering Baptist Church to pay Rev Mukandatsama US$15 355 and R16 000 in retrenchment packages, outstanding allowances and salary arrears.

The Baptist Church, through its lawyers Tererai Legal Practice filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Rev Mukandatsama, the judgment creditor Mr Arnold Fambirai and the Sheriff of the High Court as respondents.

The church wants an order permanently barring the respondents from selling its property in execution of judgment ruled in their favour under HC162/18, arguing that it complied with the court order by paying Rev Mukandatsama $33 066 in full as a final settlement of the debt.In his founding affidavit, the church representative, Mr Aleck Mudhumo, said despite having paid the respondents their dues in full, the Sheriff of the High Court is refusing to release the attached property.

The attached property includes wooden benches, glass pulpit, tables, chairs and microphone stands.

“This is an application for stay of execution of judgment under case number HC162/18 after the applicant (Baptist Church) has settled the claim in full.

The Sheriff of the High Court attached the applicant’s property on September 27, 2019 and the church made payments in clearance of the debt.

The sum of US$15 355 was paid to the respondents on October 4, 2019 while $17 419 was paid on October 15 thus clearing R16 000 at the rate of 0,9666 including $292 being the Sheriff’s costs,” said Mr Mudhumo.

“Shockingly, the Sheriff did not release the applicant’s property despite receiving full payment. Various communications were made in an effort to recover the property, but all in vain.”

In his application, Rev Mukandatsama accused the church of reluctance to honour the order despite the endorsement of the ruling.

He said the salary arrears were from October 2015 to January 2016.Rev Mukandatsama, who served the Baptist Church as its Beitbridge resident pastor since 1994, accused the church council of departing from the founding principles by voting in favour of the church’s affiliation to the BCZ.

He argued that giving away the local church’s autonomy through joining BCZ was in violation of the church constitution.

“It appears to me that what is supreme to the church council is the principle of majoritarianism in violation of the Baptist principles underpinned by the need for autonomy of the local church. The church council simply voted without due consideration of the Baptist principles,” said Rev Mukandatsama.

He argued that each branch ought to run its own affairs without the interference of the mother body.

The church on the other hand accused Rev Mukandatsama of exhibiting dictatorial tendencies by challenging the authority and decisions made by the church council, which is the supreme body.

The church also alleged that Rev Mukandatsama was a “power hungry” individual who is behind the formation of a splinter group called African Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe.