Inside ZCC Steaming Infights

  • The unending infights for ZCC Church
  • Duplicate ‘Dove’ ZCC Church Fights for Recognition


An error by  the Registrar of Societies has resulted in the re-registration of  a breakaway wing of Barnabas Lekganyane’s Zion Christian Church (ZCC) going by the name St. Engenas Zion Christian Church. The faction was registered in 2009  even though the original Church was  registered in 1972. The error has left government in a predicament as members of the re-registered church want to fight the subsequent revocation of the registration in court.
The re-registration has created two centres of power within the same church. The power struggle led to the applicants in the case against government- Bernard Molokoane, Stone Seoromeng, William Ngoana, Daniel Masipa and Diphale Lebotse through Collins & Newman seeking to reverse the decision by the Registrar of Societies. Also cited as respondents in the matter are Minister Edwin Batshu and the old St Engenas ZCC.
Explaining its admitted “error” in a letter to the church, government said it had “noticed that the people who purported to register the church for the second time are members of the same mother church in South Africa as those who registered the church for the first time in Botswana in 1972. As far as we are concerned there is only one St. Engenas church registered in Botswana with different towns and villages in Botswana and that is the church registered in 1972.”
Government says the church was erroneously re-registered because officers at its Societies Registrar were misinformed by those who came to register it in 2009. “They misled our officers into believing that the church was not properly registered when in fact it was. The first registration of the church remains valid while the second one is cancelled.”
Government is generally dismissive of the lawsuit by the ‘duplicate’ version of the church, saying “There can never be two societies formed by the same people using the same constitution and same name that already exist at the same time,” it stated in the same letter.
Members of the purported duplicate church however insist that “the 2009 registration of St. Engenas ZCC registration no 8475 is the legitimate registration of St. Engenas Zion Christian church. The Minister and his Registrar are ordered to rectify their records to reflect the order above,” they wrote in 2016. In addition, the group want the version of the church registered in 23rd November 1972 (registration no:0164) declared invalid.
In 2016 members of the other Botswana-based ‘star’ ZCC sued Bishop Lekganyane over issues of autonomy.
After the death of Engenas Barnabas Lekganyane- the founder of the original ZCC in 1948 his son Joseph Lekganyane assumed its leadership. However, an eldest known son of Lekganyane, Edward Lekganyane contested Joseph’s ascendency on returning from Natal where he had been working.
The challenge caused a rift which saw the ZCC splitting into two versions of the church signified by symbols of the dove and the star. ZCC of the dove sign was headed by Joseph and was entrenched in rural areas while Edward’s star ZCC was rooted in urban areas, especially in Johannesburg where most people believed in primogeniture- that is the right of a firstborn child in succeeding the father. Joseph Lekganyane was however installed leader of the now divided original ZCC on 15th September 1949 by church elders and Advocate Roos.
In 1965, in honour of his father and founder of ZCC, Joseph changed the name of the church to St. Engenas ZCC and added a symbol of the dove to the ZCC badge. He died in 1967 after a serious illness. At the time of his death he had already appointed his second son Engenas Joseph Lekganyane as his successor.