Zimbabwe: Church Split Over 'Girl Jesus'

Harare, Zimbabwe - The Mt Darwin-based Mudzimu Unoera Apostolic Faith has split into two factions with one group saying they will continue following the "Girl Jesus" because she resembles the late founder of the sect, Emmanuel Mudyiwa Dzangare.

The other faction is led by the sect's board of trustees and the two sides have been at each other's throats on who should use the shrine at Bretten Farm, Mazowe.

Mr Herbert Mupura, who is with the "Girl Jesus" faction, said their founder had said he was going to resurrect as a baby three years after his death in 1989.

"In 1992 Tepsy Nyanhete, who is Girl Jesus, was born and by 1998 we saw that she was the true image of our founder.

"She possesses his spirit and the way she speaks is extraordinary for a girl of her age," he said.

The board of trustees subsequently expelled all those who believe in the "Girl Jesus".

"That is why we decided to split because the other faction still awaits the resurrection of the old Dzangare which means they did not understand the teachings of the founder," said Mr Mupura.

The boards of trustees say the "Girl Jesus" does not understand their founder's teachings.

Dzangare purchased the farm in Mazowe and turned it into the sect's headquarters.

When he died it was bequeathed to the board of trustees.

The two factions recently took each other to court over use of the shrine for annual commemorations of their founder's May 19 death.

Harare lawyer Mr Blessing Nyamwanza, representing the "Girl Jesus" faction, said the board of trustees had applied for an urgent chamber application to bar his clients from using the shrine for the commemorations.

"There are always acts of violence whenever these two factions meet," he said. The High Court on Tuesday dismissed the application for want of merit and urgency.

Mr Nyamwanza said: "The Girl Jesus faction has been allowed to use the shrine at Bretten Farm for their church services as was passed in the court," he said.

Justice Rita Makarau made the ruling before her elevation to the Supreme Court.

The board of trustees was represented by Muunganirwa and Partners law firm.