Rogue bishop stealing Zim church assets

2012-09-14 00:00

“IF [excommunicated] Bishop Nolbert Kunonga tries to take over the Anglican church in Matabeleland, he will be playing with fire,” a prominent Zimbabwean church leader warned yesterday.

The Anglican Bishop of Harare, the Right Reverend Dr Chad Gandiya, and his wife, Faith, are visiting the Anglican Diocese of Natal as guests of the bishop, the Right Reverend Rubin Phillip.

Since 2008, the Anglican church in Harare has been divided between the internationally recognised Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), in which Bishop Gandiya is a bishop, and breakaway Bishop Nolbert Kunonga.

Kunonga is an outspoken supporter of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu- PF who left the CPCA and formed the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe (CPZ) in 2008. He appointed himself archbishop of the CPZ. He also forcibly prevented people from worshipping in Anglican churches unless they supported him. “Given that Kunonga is Shona, and the history of atrocities that the [Korean-trained, largely Shona] Fifth Brigade committed in Matabeleland in the 1980s, the people of Matabeleland are most unlikely to stand for Kunonga’s interference there,” Gandiya said.

He said Kunonga had seized control of the Anglican churches in Harare that number between 150 and 200. He continued to persecute CPCA members and clergy and to encourage attacks on them.

Kunonga has also repeatedly accused the Anglican church of supporting homosexuality and Anglican clerics of homosexual activity. Homosexuality is well known to be an abhorrence to Mugabe.

Gandiya said Kunonga had extended his illegal activities from Harare to two other dioceses, Manicaland and Masvingo. The two last areas so far left untouched by Kunonga are Matabeleland and central Zimbabwe.

He said Kunonga had tried to take over church properties in the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe, but was prevented.

Gandiya explained that Kunonga took control of church institutions and properties, sometimes aided and abetted by the Zimbabwean police.

A case to challenge Kunonga and establish a legitimate bishop of Harare will come before the Zimbabwe Supreme Court later this year.

“We look forward to getting back the properties that Kunonga stole from the CPCA. In the meantime he continues illegally to strip the church of assets by selling off its lands,” Gandiya said.

The Anglican church “dethroned” Kunonga from being bishop in 2008 for preaching partisan politics from the pulpit. He was later excommunicated by the Anglican church.

During their stay, the Gandiyas will meet members of the Zimbabwean refugee community in Durban and attend a baptism and confirmation service for some 70 boys at Michaelhouse, an Anglican Diocesan school in the Midlands.

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