Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zimbabwe: Chief Justice grants excommunicated Kunonga control over Anglican properties

Zimbabwe's Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has just released an interim order -- valid until the matter is finalised in the Supreme Court -- confirming Bishop Chad Gandiya as the Bishop of Harare, but upholding the 24 July 2009 High Court ruling granting renegade Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga control over all Anglican Church assets in Harare.

As these properties belong to the Church of the Province of Central Africa, from which Kunonga was excommunicated in 2007 on the grounds of schism, Bishop Gandiya is right to ask, "How can he [Kunonga] be given custodianship of properties of an organisation of which he is not a member?"

Kunonga gets control
The Zimbabwean, 12 Aug 2011

Supreme Court gives bishop Kunonga custodianship of Anglican Church’s assets
By William Matsvimbo, for Religion in Zimbabwe, 12 Aug 2011

Kunonga gets custody of church property
by Irene Madongo, for SW Radio Africa, 16 August 2011

Bishop Gandiya has told the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) that the diocese and the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) are waiting to see what will happen next. While the ruling means that Kunonga's legal challenge to Gandiya's installation as Bishop of Harare is finally over, the ownership of Anglican properties remains in the hands of the Supreme Court. "If the Supreme Court does not return the properties to our church then we will have no way of appealing the decision," Gandiya said.

In a letter to his supporters, Bishop Gandiya writes: "All along he [Kunonga] has been abusing church members and misusing church properties with the support of some in the Zimbabwe Republic Police and nobody stopped him. [Background] We thought that the laws of the land would stop him but now we see the law legitimising his impunity. We have tried to engage various responsible authorities but to no avail.

"We believe that this is setting a very dangerous precedent in the country. Dr Kunonga is claiming ownership of properties that do not belong to him. This is daylight robbery now with the support of the law. We continue to hope for the time when reason will prevail to the glory of God."

Bishop Gandiya expressed concern over what the ruling might mean for Anglican clergy. "You can well imagine the distress and chaos this is likely to result, especially for our priests who are living in rectories. I am very concerned about the likely disturbances to my priests and their families."

EVICTIONS BEGIN

On 16 August the Anglican Communion News Service reported the first eviction.

"The Rev. Dzikamai Mudenda, his wife and their extended family were forced to leave St. James Anglican Church in Mabvuku, Diocese of Harare, in the wake of a High Court judgment that Kunonga had interim custody of church properties.

"Other priests living in parish rectories have received stamped copies of the High Court judgment from supporters of Kunonga who, in one case, were accompanied by the police. The priests, including Friar Joshua from Bishop Gaul College, have all been told to move out.

"Bishop Chad Gandiya of Harare said Aug. 15 that alternative accommodation has been found for Mudenda and that they are preparing for the eviction of other priests.

"'Our parishes are busy finding alternative accommodation for them,' he said. 'We don't know who he [Kunonga] is going to put in these houses. This is not going to be easy at all. It will disrupt their family life and ministry. I have been busy this evening getting in touch with my priests and encouraging them.'"

As eviction of Anglican priests begins, Harare bishop prays 'God help us'
By ACNS staff, 16 August 2011

Michael Chingore, registrar for the Anglican Diocese of Harare, confirmed to the Episcopal News Service (ENS): "The Rev. Dzikamai Mudenda and his family left after they were threatened by people from the Kunonga group who came with copies of the court judgment. They have been going around the vestries and parishes dropping copies of the judgment and demanding that the church officers leave."

The global head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will visit Zimbabwe in early October. He is pressing for a meeting with Robert Mugabe, but the President's Office has not as yet confirmed an appointment.

Rowan Williams has appealed to Robert Mugabe previously -- unsurprisingly, to no avail.

On the other hand, the universal head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, does not need Mugabe's permission for anything. The Church must intercede for the persecuted church in Zimbabwe.

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Another article of interest:
Zimbabwean Churches Told to Support Ruling Party—or Else
Mugabe regime violently targeting wide spectrum of congregations.
George Conger, for Christianity Today, 10 Aug 2011