HARARE – Family of God Church leader Andrew Wutawunashe is locked in a messy divorce row with his estranged wife Rutendo Faith, who is demanding a share of church assets, arguing they are part of their matrimonial property.
Family of God (FOG) founder and current leader Apostle Andrew Wutawunashe
The two are seeking to end the marriage, which was solemnised in terms of Marriages Act (Chapter 5:11) in Harare in 2000.
Wutawunashe, who has six children with Rutendo, told the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down to such an extent that the two can no longer live together as husband and wife. He said there were no prospects of a restoration to a normal marriage.
He said that they have been living separately since 2005 and have not been sharing conjugal rights, according to the court documents.
However, the two are fighting over how to share the church property.
“The church property is not part of the matrimonial assets for the parties and remains the exclusive property of a universitas.
“The rest of other claimed properties by the defendant belong to specific third parties and some are properties the church is renting out,” Wutawunashe argued.
He proposed that upon the granting of the decree of divorce, he must be awarded a house at number 89 Cheltenham Drive Park, Ruwa, and that Rutendo gets number 42 Stratford Drive, Greystone Park home in Harare and stand number 2663 Tettenhall Flat also in Harare.
He also demanded that stand number 1319 along Fife Avenue in Harare be awarded to Rutendo so that she uses it as a surgery to generate income since she is a qualified medical practitioner who is able bodied.
Wutawunashe argued that she did not require post-divorce maintenance at all. He further said that Rutendo has the means, arguing that he survives on a pittance from church members.
However, the wife wants the church property to be included in the sharing of their matrimonial property, a demand that Wutawunashe vehemently contested.
“The additional property that defendant refers to is exclusive church property which does not form part of the matrimonial assets.
“A church is a universitas, a legal friction, an aggregation of individuals forming a persona or entity having the capacity of acquiring rights and incurring obligations to a great extent as a human being,” Wutawunashe said, adding that Rutendo is not a co-founder of the Family of God Church or any of its related ministries, which he claims belong to the Trustees for Andrew Wutawunashe World Witness or the Family of God Church.
However, Rutendo challenged Wutawunashe’s claims that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
She said that Wutawunashe had simply deserted the parties’ matrimonial home, adding that she did not agree to any separation, adding that the clergyman was seeing a Tswana woman.
“Defendant is advised that the plaintiff is in an unholy extra-marital relationship with another woman, the seemingly breakdown in the parties’ marital relationship is because of the plaintiff’s illicit extra-marital affair with the said female who has taken control of plaintiff’s life,” Rutendo said, adding that Wutawunashe could be under a spell or might have lost his senses.
She further said that they solemnised their marriage on June 7, 1980, as opposed to Wutawunashe’s claims that their marriage was registered on June 7, 2000 in terms of Chapter 5:11.
She demanded a $200 000 lump sum or alternatively an order for $5 000 monthly maintenance if the divorce decree is granted.
She said she is entitled to a share of the church assets because it has always been part of their family and that she sacrificed her medical profession to pursue the church vision. She said Wutawunashe is the sole controller of the trust that manages the church affairs.
“He exercises de facto control of the trust and its assets. From the registration of the trust in 2001 until January 2013, no meeting of the trustees was ever convened and the other two trustees acted solely on his instructions,” she said.
The matter was brought before High Court judge Alfas Chitakunye yesterday for a pre-trial conference on issues that are to be determined before passing the decree of divorce.
The issues include a deliberation on whether the trustees for Andrew Wutawunashe World Witness and Family of God Church are Wutawunashe’s alter egos and whether assets belonging to these entities constitute matrimonial property, among other issues.