Beatings and evictions of Anglican priests in Zimbabwe have caused the Church there to appeal a legal decision to give custody of its property to excommunicated bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga.
The Church’s decision to instruct its lawyer to file a Constitutional appeal against the August 4 ruling by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku comes after a string of successful and attempted evictions left one priest homeless and another hospitalised with a head wound.
A press release from the Diocese said: “Clergy and members of the laity belonging to the Anglican Diocese of Harare (CPCA*) across Harare, Mashonaland West, East and Central have been receiving threats, constant harassment and lately severe beatings from Kunonga’s hooligans, masquerading as clergy, accompanied by ‘certainly hired thugs.’
“The latest casualty is Reverend Jonah Mudowaya who was severely assaulted in Chinhoyi on Wednesday 24 August.”
In an email to people throughout the Anglican Communion, Bishop of the Harare Diocese, the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya wrote yesterday, “I have just spoken with our priest at St. Matthew’s Church in Chinhoyi a few minutes ago who informed me that he had just come from hospital where he was attended to by a doctor on duty because of beatings in the head he received early this evening from Kunonga’s priest and a thug.
“The reason for the beating was that he had refused to vacate the church house…This is an alarming development taking place because of the latest interim judgment given by the Chief Justice.”
In the court challenge the diocese requests that the order to grant Dr Kunonga custodianship of CPCA church property be suspended until the appeal is heard and decided upon, and that any all property taken by Dr Kunonga and his supporters should be returned to the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Dr Kunonga has also targeted other dioceses including Masvingo where he tried to replace the Chaplain of Daramombe High School and Mission with one of his own priests. A statement from the diocese states that when he was refused he broke into the church there and changed the locks. The statement also claims three Mission department heads were detained after a priest loyal to Dr Kunonga falsely told police he had been assaulted by young people at the Mission.
Masvingo Diocese is also seeking legal advice about how best to resolve this situation.
The mounting frustration felt at this ongoing harassment can clearly be seen in Harare Diocese’s latest statement. It is scathing in its criticisms of Dr Kunonga and his accusations regarding the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
It states: “What continues to worry the CPCA in the ongoing court hearings is that while Kunonga voluntarily resigned from the CPCA, claiming that there was homosexuality and was opposed to the land reforms in Zimbabwe, in his papers he ironically wants to be recognised as the legitimate bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Harare (CPCA), which is now legitimately occupied by Bishop Nicholas Chad Gandiya, who has worldwide recognition in the Anglican Communion.
“The real issue why Kunonga left the Church was money; he had hoped that all Anglicans will follow him out of the Church in 2007, deliberately forgetting that Anglicanism is entrenched in the Anglican Communion and people have values and beliefs which he lacks. People have no interest and have no attachment to failure and deviant behaviour, inspired by political opportunism.
“To us, Kunonga is history, and history is in the past. He prepared his bed of thorns, and he should lie on it.”
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