Tension and chaos on Monday characterised the Biennial Conference of the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) as delegates disagreed over which constitution to use to elect leaders.
The synod has two constitutions. The old one allowed all delegates to vote while the new one gives voting power to two out of every three members from the synod’s zones.
Synod legal adviser Meyer Chisanga was called in to explain the rationale behind using the new constitution.
However, from the look of things, Chisanga’s explanation did not please some delegates, including former CCAP General Synod moderator the Reverend Silas Ncozana, who walked out of the St Michael and All Angels Multipurpose Hall in protest accompanied by former Blantyre Synod general secretary (GS) the Reverend MacDonald Kadawati and several clerics.
Speaking to The Nation after walking out, Ncozana accused some officials of bending rules to retain their positions.
“They [church leaders] tried everything they could to keep their positions. The church has lost direction because officials are looking at material benefits at the expense of the church’s values,” said Ncozana, one of the synod’s living senior clerics.
Prison chaplain the Reverend Stanley Chimesya, who stayed away from the conference, said he foresaw chaos in the process.
“This is what I have been fighting [against] all along because I knew such things would happen. This is embarrassing because it has never happened in the history of the synod. Again, how could they embarrass a respected person such as the Reverend Ncozana?” queried Chimesya, a fierce critic of Maulana in the run-up to the elections.
But Chisanga, a private practice lawyer and a CCAP faithful, dismissed claims that he was responsible for the mess due to his decision. He said he only followed what the synod constitution stipulates.
Re-elected synod GS the Reverend Alex Maulana also denied influencing the alleged bending of the rules.
Maulana, widely alleged to have been bankrolled by governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), confirmed to have made it to office in his previous term using the old constitution despite the new one being introduced in 2004.
In the least controversial race for the position of moderator, the Reverend Rabson Chinkwezule scooped 225 votes against 83 for his closest challenger the Reverend Ernest Mpate and 73 for the Reverend Manford Kutani while deputy moderator the Reverend Edna Navaya retained her post unopposed.
There were several delegates from sister synods such as Nkhoma as well as representatives of partner churches in Scotland and Canada present, among others. However, conspicuously missing were representatives of CCAP