The High Court has ruled that Evangelical Church of Zimbabwe bishop Isaac Soda is not the legitimate leader of the church after it emerged in court that the institution’s constitution was flouted to benefit his ascension.
Soda had approached the court seeking to bar Simon Nota, Benson Makachi, Silas Gweshe, Gibson Mutsaka and another woman only identified as N Foya, from interfering with his duties as the church’s bishop.
However, High Court Judge David Mangota dismissed his application, after ruling that it lacked merit.
“The court has considered all the circumstances of this case.
“It was satisfied that the application could not and did not hold.
“It could not succeed. The application is, accordingly, dismissed with costs,” Mangota said.
The church members, however, claim since Mangota’s order in June this year, Soda has refused to vacate the church’s headquarters in Waterfalls, Harare.
In his ruling, Mangota said Soda’s case was “hopelessly beyond redemption
He (Soda) could not, therefore, get the relief which he prayed for even if the first respondent (Evangelical Church of Zimbabwe)’s opposing papers were defective and, therefore, improperly before the court.
“He, out of zeal, bended the provisions of the Constitution to achieve what his heart desired most.
“A few of his colleagues assisted him in the process. The court could not sanction such conduct,” Mangota said.
Mangota further said that the church is a voluntary organisation, which is governed by its own constitution.
Soda argued in his court papers that he had been constitutionally elected and therefore properly elevated, while the other church members said he was not constitutionally elected.
They said they did not recognise him as their leader as a result of the circumstances under which he was elected.
“His (Soda) submissions were that the provisions of the constitution were strictly followed at his selection and election into the office of bishop.
“He insisted that he was properly and, therefore, validly elevated to the office.
“He, in that regard, described the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth (Nota, Makachi, Gweshe, Mutsaka and Foya) respondents as faction leaders whom he said were or are anti-authority,” the court noted.
However, the court observed that the church’s constitution was violated to catapult Soda to the position of bishop