Members of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) in Botswana have taken leader of the church Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane to court over the way the church is governed in the country.
The 11-man delegation from the Tlokweng ZCC branch state in court papers that they have been affected by the church’s failure to live up to its constitutional demands.
ZCC is cited as the First respondent while Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane is cited as the Second respondent.
They are represented by Ndandi Law Firm and the case is expected to be heard by Justice Michael Mothobi.
“This application seeks to declare that the Respondents have violated their governing constitution and further to compel them to comply with it. We are gravely concerned about the way the church is governed. It seems to us that the constitution of the church is not used as governing instrument from which powers are derived and executed,” said the members in their court papers.
For instance, the members said, since the constitution was adopted in 2009 they have never ever held an Annual General meeting (AGM).
“We are aggrieved by this because an AGM is a supreme body that makes decisions but as members we are deprived of the opportunity to be involved in shaping the future of our church and determining its direction,” said the church members.
In terms of clause 16.1.1 the party’s constitution demands that the AGM deal with the general affairs of the church including but not limited to presentation of the financial reports, chairman remarks, audit of the membership and other relevant matters.
“In the absence of the AGM structure, we are therefore disempowered to deal with the issues aforesaid. The Church as a result lacks accountability and transparency, which is not good for governance purposes. We deserve and are entitled to know about the affairs of the church,” said the members.
They say they are entitled to know how the church money is used and to in turn provide checks and balances that will see to it that all monies are accounted for and used for proper and useful deeds.
“Otherwise it is impossible for us as members to hold the church leadership accountable,” they argued.
The members accuse Bishop Lekganyane of failing to appoint a Minister since 2009 to run and head the Church in Botswana. This, they said, has caused the church to be in a state of crisis and uncertainty as clearly no one is accountable to lead it in Botswana.
“The church is as a result being run from outside as no one is clothed with powers to run it in Botswana. The position of the Minister cannot and should not be vacant for a considerable period because it is a powerful position. So powerful that it has executive powers to appoint the executive council of the church,” said the members.
They added that as the members have not been told why the Bishop has not appointed any person to this position.
In terms of the Constitution, the power to appoint the Executive Council rests with the Minister. However, the members said since the church has never appointed anyone to this position it is unclear who then appointed the Executive Council which is currently in office.
“It is however clear that the Executive Council was not constitutionally appointed and we would therefore like their appointments to be nullified and set aside. It is also necessary since the current Council is not properly in office to have the incoming constitutionally appointed council to review their past decisions as they may have exposed the church with bad decisions when they have no legal recognition in the strict sense,” the ZCC members said.
The members said that before they took legal action against the church they gave the church two months as required by the Constitution to investigate the cause of their complaints and due notice was provided by their lawyers.
That notwithstanding, the church has done nothing about their complaints and efforts to avoid litigation by appealing to the Registrar of Societies bore no fruit as there was no feedback.