Home » Judicial » ’ACCZ Not a Legal Body’

The Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe has no legal mandate to issue judgments and enforce its orders because it is not a court of law, legal experts have said. This comes after the ACCZ Legal, Peace, Justice and Reconciliation Commission issued an order against an apostolic sect led by Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani and based in Harare’s Budiriro suburb.

Violence erupted at the sect’s shrine yesterday when ACCZ president Bishop Johannes Ndanga attempted to effect the order, resulting in the injury of several people, including police officers and a journalist.

Lawyer Mr Chris Mhike said judicial authority derived from the Constitution of Zimbabwe and relevant statutes, particularly the High Court Act of Zimbabwe and the Magistrates Court Act.

“The ACCZ is certainly not one of the institutions listed under Chapter 8 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, that is to say the section dealing with the court system of Zimbabwe,” he said. “It follows, therefore, that the purported judicial findings and judgments of the ACCZ are of no legal force and effect.

“Without the ratification or registration of the council’s findings, the so-called judgment is a sham. I do not understand why the police would avail themselves as they did at Budiriro for the enforcement of a non-legal document.”

Another lawyer, Mr Chanda Chopamba, said court orders were executed by a Messenger of Court or a Deputy Sheriff.

“A court of law is a court of law,” he said.

“They should make reports to the police who will take action. They have to approach the courts or the police depending on the matter.”

Mr Tawanda Chitapi said ACCZ could not pretend to be a court of law.

“The only recognised courts in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe are the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Magistrates’ Court,” he said.

Mr Misheck Hogwe said there was no provision for non-legal entities to set up courts and issue judgements and orders.

But ACCZ president Bishop Johannes Ndanga said they could ban cults.

“We have that mandate as all these churches do have a law that governs them, except canon law,” he said.

“This canon law is administered by the ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) and the ACCZ is the body that handles that and we have an understanding with the police at the highest level.

“The multi-sectoral meeting we had with the police, Musasa Project (an NGO focused on gender equality) and the ministries of Primary and Secondary Education and Sport, Arts and Culture on Wednesday resolved that the church be banned without delay as more than 400 children were not going to school because of the rules of the cult.”

Source : The Herald