Local Community, Salvation Army Church Fight For School
The Tshelanyemba community in Maphisa and the Salvation Army Church are embroiled in a fight for the ownership of Tshelanyemba High School.
The School Development Committee (SDC) claims the school belongs to the community while the Salvation Army Church insists it owns the institution.
The Director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Taungana Ndoro said the matter is now before the courts. He said:
The matter has been taken before the courts, so let’s let the law take its course.
The problems reportedly started after the SDC lodged a High Court application against the Salvation Army Church.
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The church had approached the Magistrates Court in Kezi seeking to stop the construction of a girl’s dormitory which is being done by the SDC and the local community.
The Salvation Army Church, as the Responsible Authority of the school, sought to stop the construction of the dormitory because it was being constructed where the church wanted to build a hall for worship.
On the other hand, the SDC and the community have been planning on building the dormitory to provide accommodation for girls who travel long distances to and from school.
The community is now questioning the church’s authority and is now seeking to wrest control from the Salvation Army Church.
The Sunday News reported a source as saying the site for the project had been approved by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Matobo Rural District Council reportedly approved the plan. Said the source:
The problem between the community and the church started when the church failed to build a boarding secondary school in 1981 after Government had requested missions to build secondary boarding schools while communities were to build day schools which were called upper tops.
When the church failed to build a boarding secondary school, the community took up the Government offer and looked for land outside the premises of the church in a community area and built a day secondary school with Government assisting the community through a building aid grant.
Another source said the community invited the church to be the Responsible Authority hoping that the church would mobilise resources using its international links to build a boarding school. Said the source:
The community employed community builders whom they paid from the building fund and collections from parents and members of the community.
The community then invited the church to be the Responsible Authority of the school because the law required that schools be under a Responsible Authority.
The church was chosen because it is an international organisation and the community hoped that the church would mobilise resources using its international links to build a fully-fledged boarding secondary school and also assist the school in other areas of development. This did not happen.
Funds that were destined for the school channelled through the church including school fees which the church collected were never accounted for.
This resulted in the community withholding the fees and opening a bank account where the fees were banked which happened in 1991.
This led to a very bitter fight between the church and the community, but the community refused to have the church in control of the school fees.
It was at this time that the community wanted to change the Responsible Authority of the school but this did not happen.
However, the relations between the church and the community remained strained.
The parties involved, that is the ministry of education, the SDC, the church and Matobo RDC, said they will only comment on the matter after the finalisation of the court case.
More: The Sunday News