HIGH Court judge Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo last week castigated the Zion Christian church leaders, Archbishops Makuva Mutendi and Tafirenyika Masuka, for “lying” under oath in court while giving evidence in a church leadership wrangle that had threatened to tear apart the Zion Apostolic Church.

Mutendi is the Archbishop of Zion Christian Church, while Masuka is Archbishop under the Zion Apostolic Church which was at the centre of the leadership tussle.

The two bishops had been invited to give evidence in a leadership dispute matter pitting the two sons of the late Bishop Dorius Shoko, who was the leader of Zion Apostolic Church, on the question of who between the two late Bishop’s sons, Jameson and Ezra Pedzisai, should be recognised as the legitimate successor.

“The court was baffled with the easiness with which the men of the cloth would evade the truth. It was only when confronted with the inescapable truths that the two Bishops would turn around to tell the truth,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.

After the passing-on of their father, Jameson took the church to court arguing he was the legitimate heir to succeed his late father in accordance with the church’s 1949 covenant.

But his sibling, Ezra, with the support of the church’s council argued that he too was the legitimate successor following his anointment with oil by his father.

In her 10-paged judgement, while granting leadership to Ezra, Justice Matanda-Moyo said: “I was mostly disappointed by the conduct of Bishop Mutendi and Bishop Masuka. Society looks up to these two senior Archbishops. For the Bishops not to take court business seriously is a tragedy.”

She added: “The two showed disrespect to the court proceedings and were very economical with the truth. It was clear they took sides with the defendant [Jameson]. They knew the defendant had not been chosen by the late Bishop Dorius.

“Bishop Mutendi’s evidence was marred with contradictions. To buttress my finding that the two Bishops were biased was their answers to the question whether they would ordain Ezra should the court find him to be the true Bishop of the plaintiff [Zion Apostolic Church]. Both Archbishops, Masuka and Mutendi, responded in the negative.”

Justice Matanda-Moyo further said although Jameson tried to bring Zion Apostolic Church to be governed by the 1949 covenant at all costs, his witnesses were not credible.

“The defendant’s [Jameson] case was marred with falsehoods. The defendant himself initially denied that his relationship with his late father was not good. He later admitted he was disinherited,” the judge said.

“He became argumentative that the church did not belong to his father, but to his late grandfather Andreas. The defendant did not strike me as a truthful witness.”

“While it is true that the defendant is the eldest son of the late Bishop Dorius, it is also true that the defendant had been disinherited by his late father. The DVD’s produced [as evidence during trial] also showed the late Bishop denouncing the defendant.”

Justice Matanda-Moyo said it would not augur well to let the Jameson take over from his late father whose beliefs he did not accept.

“In the result it is ordered as follows; that Ezra Pedzisayi is the legitimate Bishop of the plaintiff (ZAC), that the defendant [Jameson] and all those claiming title through him be and are hereby interdicted from using the plaintiff’s name, . . . barred from interfering with the plaintiff’s church activities, . . . interdicted from using the plaintiff’s properties and facilities without the consent from the plaintiff and that the defendant pay cost of suit,” she ruled.

Ezra was represented by Gunje and Chasakara Legal Practitioners.