Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ZIMBABWE: let justice roll on

By Elizabeth Kendal

After excommunicated rogue bishop, Nolbert Kunonga -- also known as Mugabe's bishop -- broke away from the Anglican Church in 2007, he forcibly occupied and seized control of a vast array of  church properties, including the cathedral in Harare, numerous churches, vicarages, schools, clinics, orphanages, offices, vehicles and bank accounts.

Kunonga, who has been linked to violence against Anglicans, including the murder of 10 clergy, has long been backed by pro-Mugabe police and ZANU-PF thugs. Anglicans suspect Kunonga of complicity in the February 2011 murder of Jessica Mandeya (89), a lay leader in the rural parish of Mashonaland East who was raped, mutilated and strangled after she refused to join Kunonga's pro-Mugabe faction. Kunonga denies any part in this, retorting that if he were going to kill anyone, it would be his nemesis, Bishop Chad Gandiya.

For more background see:
Religious Liberty Monitoring, label Zimbabwe
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, label Zimbabwe

On 12 August 2011, Zimbabwe's Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku released an interim order confirming Bishop Chad Gandiya as the Bishop of Harare, but upholding the 24 July 2009 High Court ruling granting the illegitimate bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, control over all Anglican Church assets in Harare.

See: Chief Justice grants excommunicated Kunonga control over Anglican properties
By Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 17 Aug 2011

On Monday 19 November 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the appeal put forward by the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and led by Bishop Chad Gandiya. It also set aside, condemning as "wrong", two judgments that had been granted in favour of the Nolbert Kunonga-led "Diocesan Trustees for the Diocese of Harare" entitling them to control of Anglican church properties.

For full report from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) see:
Supreme Court decision ending unprecedented assault on religious freedom welcomed
20 Nov 2012

ZLHR is advocating that immediate action be taken "to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the violations that, for almost six years, visited Anglican Church parishioners including the disadvantaged young children at CPCA-run orphanages around the country. Such action," it said, "will have the effect of contributing positively to the restoration of public confidence in the justice delivery system."

Supreme Court Judge Yunus Omerjee, who read the judgement, said: "When one leaves a club one does not take its property with him or her. It has long been established as a salutary principle of law in this area of property ownership that when one or more people secede from an existing church, they have no right to claim church property even if those who remain members of the congregation are in the minority."

See: Kunonga loses Anglican property fight
by Moses Chibaya, New Zimbabwe, 19  Nov 2012

Daniel Nemukuyu reports: "After the ruling, Bishop Gandiya and his followers broke into wild celebrations outside the Supreme Court with some singing hymns and dancing."

Dr Kunonga has been ordered to return all Anglican properties illegally seized from the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

Speaking after the Supreme Court judgment Zimbabwe's Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, David Coltart, himself an Anglican, said: "Our prayers have been answered for the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe. I now look forward to working with them to restore sanity in their schools which have suffered so much during this period of insanity. As usual my door is open if they need help in this regard."

"We prayed, we waited and we have been vindicated," said Bishop Chad Gandiya. "This is God's doing . . . "We have been in exile for five years, but now we are going back home."

Bishop Gandiya described Monday's ruling as a "pleasant surprise" and appealed to all Anglicans to be "gracious in winning".

Of course it might be too much to expect that Kunonga will be gracious in losing. Implementing the order might not be as straight forward as issuing it.

UPDATES:

Zimbabwe: Jubilant Anglicans Return to Parishes
By Innocent Ruwende and Evelene Taadira, 26 November 2012
excerpt:
It was an emotional Sunday for members of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) as they returned to various parishes after five years of worshipping under trees or rented premises.

This came in the wake of last week's Supreme Court ruling which gave the Harare Diocese led by Bishop Chad Gandiya control over the church's properties.The properties had been under the control of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, who is former head of the Harare Diocese.

The Supreme Court decision ended years of feuding between the CPCA and Dr Kunonga's group and gave Anglicans the right to worship in their church buildings, and repossess other properties including schools, clinics and orphanages that had been under the control of Dr Kunonga.

Anglican Harare CPCA spokesperson Mr Precious Shumba said their members had access to all their premises and for the first time in five years conducted services in the parishes.

He said they had not met any resistance from most priests aligned to Bishop Kunonga. . .
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Zimbabwe: Kunonga Faction Resists Eviction in Some Parishes
By Tererai Karimakwenda, 26 November 2012
excerpt
Anglican clergy and parishioners who went back to worship in church buildings that had been seized by the former Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, have said for the most part parishes were peaceful but they faced resistance in some areas. . .

Peaceful services were held in many parishes, including Avondale, Cranborne, Mabelreign, Mufakose, Budiriro and Norton, where church services were conducted midweek after Kunonga's bishops and priests moved out.

But strong resistance was reported at three of Kunonga's parishes on Friday, including St Philip parish in Tafara and St James parish in Mabvuku, where Reverend Raymond Makiwa is alleged to have threatened to unleash dogs on anyone trying to evict him. . .
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Ousted Bishop Kunonga fights back
Daniel Nemukuyu and Tererai Karimakwenda, November 28, 2012
excerpt
[Kunonga's faction] has engaged prominent Harare lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange of Venturas and Samukange law firm and yesterday filed two separate High Court applications to stop the pending eviction of its clergy and laity from church properties. . .
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Kunonga ran up $300k bills: Bishop Gandiya
by Moses Chibaya 21 Nov 2012