Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Livingstonia Synod on Thursday won the case against break-a-way faction of the Kanengo congregation, in which they were fighting over church premises and property.
The High Court in Lilongwe has since ordered the rebellious congregation to vacate the church premises and handover all properties to the Synod including bank accounts.
In April this year, scores of irate congregation at Kanengo CCAP church, Lilongwe broke away from the Synod following the controversial suspension of their reverend Chimwemwe Mhango who had refused to be transferred to Ekwendeni and Euthini congregation in Mzimba.
Rev. Mhango defied the transfer on 20th April 2015, the conduct the Synod leadership cited as “total” insubordination. He was also allegedly to be behind the protests his followers conducted against his transfer.
The Synod was forced to seek court intervention after the congregation refused to vacate the premises, arguing they built the church on their own and that ”owners of the premises are under the CCAP church ministering by Chimwemwe Mhango”.
However, on Thursday Justice Charles Mkandawire ruled in favour of the Synod and ordered the congregation to vacate the premises and handover all properties including church’s bank accounts, furniture and music equipments.
“As a man of God who has been sent to spread the word of God, does it really matter where evangelisation takes place? If the calling he took at Kanengo had conditions attached before he could be transferred, are those conditions set in stone?” said Mkandawire on Rev Mhango.
”This court therefore directs that the Orders sought by the plaintiff (Livingstonia Synod) in the Originating Summons are hereby granted and costs of this action are awarded to the plaintiff,” ruled Justice Mkandawire.
The judge noted in his ruling that the questions and arguments raised in court failed to prove that the property or the church premises belonged to the congregation.
He argued that evidence tendered in court showed that the property at Kanengo congregation was vested in the Trustees of CCAP Livingstonia Synod.
”This applies not only to real or immovable properties but to the other properties such as furniture, beds, music equipments, fridge, church vessels and bank accounts,” he said.
Justice Mkandawire added: ”The evidence on record is very clear and supported by several documents that the immovable properties such as the plots of land were acquired through the Trustees of Livingstonia Synod”.
Mhango was ordained on April 24, 1994 and has served as a minister for various congregations up to date. He is also a renowned gospel musician and Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president.
The judge said the Livingstonia Synod constitution was founded on the cross-cutting issues of compassion, love, forgiveness and tolerance.
“Actually, any church that is not anchored on these cornerstones is not worth its salt,” Mkandawire said.
Mkandawire noted there was room for negotiations through the CCAP General Synod comprising synods from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe and only then would the property issue come before the High Court for adjudication
Both lawyers for Kanengo CCAP Zeros Matumba and Livingstonia synod’s Victor Gondwe welcomed the ruling.
Speaking recently on Maziko radio, Mhango said its people who refuse to let him go because he initiates wonderful development projects wherever he is deployed which are appreciated by the people.
He accused some officials of the synod of envy wondering why he was being uprooted from Kanengo when he had not yet finished his five year term as prescribed in the synod’s rules and regulations.
Mhango also encourages people to speak in tongues and does what pentecostal churches do in healing the sick and casting out demons, a total departure from the CCAP doctrines.
The Kanengo CCAP reverend said on the radio interview said this is what the Bible prescribes. –Additional reporting by Owen Khamula, Nyasa TimesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :