A case in which a delegation of eleven Zion Christian Church (ZCC) members is challenging the church’s governance in Botswana took a new twist with Duma Boko acting for Sydney Pilane this past Tuesday.
When proceedings commenced, Judge Michael Mothibi sought clarity on whether Boko had stepped in for Pilane as indicated in the heads of argument.
Boko who is the President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and mediator of the warring Sidney Pilane and Ndaba Gaolatlhe in the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) factional wars told Justice Mothobi that he was acting for Pilane.
In 2015, when the case started, Josta Sinvula Isaac, who is a member and ZCC lawyer appeared as an impartial advisor of the court, but he has now turned around seeking to change status as a party to the proceedings as a fourth respondent defending the case against the ZCC and Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane.
The ZCC has been operating with two church constitutions, one from 1994, and the currently disputed constitution of 2009.
The 11 members’ argument in the main application is that the Annual General Meetings have not been held since 2009 and that the Head Office in Botswana does not have a minister as per the constitution.
They want an order declaring that ZCC and its leader, Bishop Lekganyane, are violating the constitution by not convening an AGM to appoint a minister, executive council and property committee.
The delegation represented by Uyapo Ndadi argues that Isaac is only advancing his personal interests.
Isaac’s representative, Advocate Duma Boko on the other hand says it is his client’s constitutional right to protect his interest as a member of the church.
“Isaac should be barred from being enjoined in this case because he is abusing the court process. He does not even have the right to be in these proceedings because he is suspended and is no longer a church member,” Ndadi told court
Boko maintained his client is a member of the church and admitted that he is advancing the case because of personal interest.
The attorney representing Bishop Lekganyane and ZCC from South Africa, Advocate Soraya Hassim, also accused Isaac of trying to defend the church while he is not a member.
When asked why he got instructed by Pilane to handle the case Boko told this publication that he only takes instructions from the client.