While I was the Bishop of Croydon in the Diocese of Southwark I was heavily engaged with the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, particularly with the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe. I have posted frequently on Zimbabwe and what is happening there. (However, I cannot embed links on this iPad, so type ‘Zimbabwe’ into the search box and you will find them.)
In brief, the former Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, went bad and eventually was ousted as Bishop of Harare seven or eight years ago. He is no longer regarded as an Anglican, let alone a bishop. He was specifically not invited to the Lambeth Conference in 2008.
However, he has continued to use the favour of Robert Mugabe, the courts and the police to pursue ownership and possession of the churches, houses and assets of the Church in Zimbabwe. All this despite the fact that the properties belong in law to the Province of the Church of Central Africa – to which Kunonga does not belong.
The bishops in Zimbabwe have long trusted that their very expensive counter-claims would be upheld by the courts on the obvious grounds that Kunonga has no case in law. However, in the upside-down world of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the rule of law is now finally and incontrovertibly dead. A few days ago the courts ruled in favour of Kunonga and Kunonga has now started to evict families of non-loyal (to him, that is) priests from their houses and churches. He and his violent henchmen are now moving across Zimbabwe claiming land and property. They are backed by the police who have shown themselves ready to use violence.
This is not a church issue – especially not simply an ‘Anglican’ issue. Nor is it a religious matter. It is a human rights matter and concerns the rule of law. I have observed many times before that until the rule of law is established in Zimbabwe nothing is sacred and nothing is secure.
Anyone who wishes to might email their MP or the Foreign Secretary to ask what the British Government is doing to object to the Zimbabwean Government or to consult other governments or bodies such as SADC as to a response.
Here follows the text of a communique issued last week by the Anglican Communion Office:
Posted On : August 16, 2011 9:30 AM | Posted By : Admin ACO
Related Categories: Zimbabwe
An Anglican priest in Zimbabwe and his family have been evicted from their home by priests loyal to excommunicated bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga. Others across the diocese have also been ordered to leave.
The Revd Dzikamai Mudenda at Mabvuku, his wife and their extended family, were forced to leave St James Mabvuku in Harare in the wake of a High Court judgement that Dr 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 Dr 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.
The Rt Revd Chad Gandiya, Bishop of Harare, said yesterday that alternative accommodation has been found for Revd Mudenda and are preparing for the eviction of their other priests.
“Our parishes are busy finding alternative accommodation for them,” he said. “We don’t know who he 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.”
A recent judgment in Zimbabwe’s High Court that upheld Bishop Chad appointment as Harare’s bishop also gave Dr Kunonga custodianship of all church properties—ones that actually belong to the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
“Kunonga was given custodianship of CPCA properties when he no longer a member of our church and province and he is now evicting CPCA priests and we don’t know who he is going to put in these houses. God help us.”
The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been under attack from the excommunicated bishop, Dr Nolbert Kunonga, since 2007. Kunonga, with the support of police and henchmen, has seized CPCA church property and used violence and to break up church services. In a recent media interview Dr Kunonga was quoted as saying he aimed to control the 3,000 Anglican churches, schools, hospitals and other properties in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.
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