In a new twist to the adultery saga that has rocked the AFM Dangamvura branch, the church has reportedly shunted off scandal tainted Pastor Clever Mthombeni to an unassuming rural outpost called Chimhenga, which is situated along the Mutare-Masvingo highway.
After we broke the story of the scandal, the AFM in Zimbabwe Provincial board for Manicaland decided to transfer pastor Clever Mthombeni to a “less visible branch”, a move which would ordinarily be considered a demotion within the church hierarchy.
However, the move has raised the ire of church members in general and the Chimenga assembly in particular, as congregants maintain that pastor Mthombeni ought to have faced sterner disciplinary measures for his alleged conduct, which would according to source within the church include a 6 month suspension and a further 3 month assessment period among other measures.
After the allegations of Pastor Mthombeni’s indescretions, which mainly centered on alleged sexual liaisons with several church girls, the pastor was reportedly summoned by the Provincial Council, which sought to “discipline” him. It’s reported that the provincial council also summoned some of the girls implicated in the scandal, who all are said to have given incriminating evidence of the pastor Mthombeni’s alleged shenanigans.
It’s further alleged that one of the girls reported that Pastor Mthombeni had kidnapped & attempted to rape her. She is said to have told the council that her parents were of the opinion that she report the matter to the police, but the church allegedly “intimidated her into silence”.
This version of events has been corroborated by a highly placed source who occupies a senior position within the church, but requested to remain anonymous for fear of victimization.
Our sources also added that most church members in Mutare were of the opinion that Pastor Mthombeni ought to have been reported to the police to face alleged “kidnapping and aggravated indecent assault charges” after the girls’ testimony.
“The girls testified, the last girl told the Provincial Council that Pastor Mthombeni had taken her to a secluded area in the bush, where he tried to force himself on her but she said she resisted until he gave up and drove back to town. That is kidnapping and aggravated indecent assault if you ask me.” Said a source who requested anonymity.
Several church members that spoke to this publication expressed outrage at the “soft-landing” that the church gave to Pastor Mthombeni, accusing the church board of “protecting him”. Our highly placed sources allege that this treatment of offending Pastors with kid gloves was now rampant within the organization, adding that another Pastor(name withheld) had also been moved from one church assembly to another within Manicaland, owing to his “womanizing tendencies”.
The major bone of contention, according to our sources, was that parents and guardians now increasingly feared sending their children especially girls, to church, fearing for their safety and well-being, as offending pastors with a history of scandals aren’t disciplined or reported to the authorities to face justice but are moved from one branch to another.
The sources also told this publication that church members now increasingly viewing the AFM In Zimbabwe institution as corrupt and inept, as it “fails to deal with scandalous pastors” but rewards them by moving them to other branches, which exposes congregants in those assemblies to the vices and caprices of these “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.
Another highly placed source, who sits on one of the church boards revealed to this publication that instead of being reported to the police on allegations of kidnapping and aggravated indecent assault, Pastor Mthombeni’s charges at the disciplinary hearing had been “watered down” to that of “improper associations.”
The source, who also requested to remain anonymous for fear of being victimized stated that the feeling among most members of the church was that the church in its current form wasn’t an entity “waiting for the second coming of Christ” but now seemingly “a citadel of corruption and perverse behaviors”.
When our reporter asked how Pastor Mthombeni was moved to another branch instead of perhaps suspension pending investigation, the highly placed source claimed that the Provincial Council lied to the Provincial board and that an Overseer Bunza was the one who imposed Pastor Mthombeni on the Chimhenga assembly.
The source revealed to this publication that the normal routine would have been to refer Pastor Mthombeni’s issue to the Judicial Board, which according to the amended constitution, was empowered to deal with issues of that magnitude.
The source also stated that the Chimhenga assembly sat and protested the “imposition” of Pastor Mthombeni, and wrote a letter of protest to the Provincial Secretary but that their pleas seemingly fell on deaf ears.
“The assembly in Chimhenga was supposed to be given 90 days to select a pastor of its choice, as per our constitution but Overseer Bunza imposed Pastor Mthombeni on the assembly.
“The congregants aren’t happy at all and have even protested the imposition and wrote a letter to the provincial secretary, but it seems nothing is going to happen. This is serious corruption in the church” Lamented the source.
Contacted for comment, AFM in Zimbabwe national Spokesperson Overseer Ganyau professed ignorance of the scandal, stating that he was yet to be briefed on it.
“I’m not aware of this, its news to me. I’ll advise the church’s position when I get the details, keep in touch and follow up.” Said Ganyau.