Monday, 21 November 2016

Fired ‘dictator’ pastor takes church to court

By Mashudu Netsianda

A Baptist Church pastor who was fired for allegedly being “a dictator in the house of God” has taken the church to court over more than $16 000 in outstanding terminal benefits and salary arrears.

Rev Davison Mukandatsama was sacked from the Beitbridge Baptist Church last year in September 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.

Rev Mukandatsama this week 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 four months ago.

The arbitral award was confirmed by the Labour Court on July 22 this year.

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

In papers before the court, the arbitrator Mr Wiriranai Mateveke and Rev Mukandatsama are the applicants while Beitbridge Baptist Church was cited as the respondent. Rev Mukandatsama, through his lawyers, Tavenhave and Machingauta Legal Practitioners, said the salary arrears were from October 2015 to January 2016.

He said the application was premised on the fact that the church either refused or neglected to pay the salary arrears.

In his founding affidavit, Mr Mateveke said despite the endorsement of the ruling, the church has shown reluctance to honour the order.

“This is an application for registration of an order of the Labour Court in terms of section 92b (3) of the Labour Act for it to have the effect of a court order for purposes of enforcement. This was a labour dispute between second applicant (Rev Mukandatsama) and the respondent which was referred to me for conciliation at the Ministry of Labour in Beitbridge. The conciliation failed which in turn caused me to issue out a ruling in favour of the second applicant,” said Mr Mateveke.

“My ruling has not been honoured by the respondent, which caused me in my official capacity as arbitrator to approach the Labour Court seeking the endorsement of the ruling.” Rev Mukandatsama, in his supporting affidavit, said his former employer has not made efforts to comply with the order.

“I am entitled to take recourse to this honourable court for the registration of the Labour Court order for the purposes of civil enforcement once it is registered,” he said.

Rev Mukandatsama, who served the Baptist Church as its Beitbridge resident pastor since 1994, accuses 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 runs its own affairs without the interference of the mother body.

The church on the other hand accuses Rev Mukandatsama of exhibiting dictatorial tendencies by challenging the authority and decisions made by the church council, which is the supreme body.
Fired ‘dictator’ pastor takes church to court
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.

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