Zion Christian Church (ZCC) and its leader Bishop Barnabas Edward Lekganyane have launched an appeal against the ruling of Lobatse High Court barring the church from holding disciplinary hearing against seventeen (17) of its members.
The 17 disgruntled members of Tlokweng Branch had taken the church to court to interdict it from holding a disciplinary hearing against them after they challenged the way things are run in Botswana.
Lobatse High Court Judge Nthomiwa Nthomiwa agreed with the church members that they have made a case and interdicted the church and its leader and restrained them from holding any disciplinary hearing against them in terms of the Notice to Attend a Disciplinary hearing dated 20th November 2015, pending the outcome of their case before Justice Mothobi.
The applicants also wanted the court to interdict ZCC and Lekganyane from holding such a disciplinary hearing pending the church and its leader listening to and addressing the grievances lodged by the Applicants with the church on April 8th 2014 and alternatively, the Respondents’ furnishing the applicants with particulars of the charges they are alleged to have committed.
In a notice of grounds of appeal filed by Bishop Lekganyane and the church seen by Botswana Guardian they want the decision by Justice Nthomiwa set aside. They argue that the High Court erred and or misdirected itself by assuming jurisdiction on a matter involving theological/administrative disputes between church members.
It is further argued that the lower court erred by holding that the 11 members are entitled to an interdict restraining the church from conducting disciplinary hearing pending the outcome of the case before Justice Mothobi.
The dispute between the 11 members of the ZCC praise and worship group ‘Mokhukhu’ and the church started when the church and its leader summoned them to a disciplinary hearing which was scheduled for 12th December 2015.
The Applicants are said to have on several occasions lodged grievances with the church but with no success. They once filed a case with the court and withdrew it. Soon after withdrawing the case they were served with disciplinary charges dated June 27th 2015.
In the main application before Mothobi, the church members are challenging the way the church is governed in Botswana. They argue that ever since 2009 no Annual General Meeting has been held and that the head office in Botswana has no minister as per the constitutional requirement.
They want an order declaring that ZCC and Lekganyane are violating the constitution by not convening annual general meetings on a yearly basis or at all as provided for by the ZCC Constitution; appointing a Minister since July 2009; Appointing the executive Council in accordance with the Constitution; Putting in place structures such as the property committee; and that the church and its leader should be ordered to correct the aforementioned anomalies.