Zimbabwe: Ex-bishop must return property

2012-11-19 18:58

Harare - A Zimbabwe court has ordered a breakaway Anglican bishop to return church property he seized after his excommunication in 2007.

Supreme Court Judge Yunus Omerjee ruled on Monday that Bishop Nolbert Kunonga has no right to the church property because he left the mainstream Anglican Church.

Zimbabwe's Anglican Church has been divided since Kunonga, a loyalist to President Robert Mugabe, was excommunicated in 2007 by the main Anglican Province of Central Africa and the worldwide head of the church for inciting violence in sermons supporting Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

Kunonga broke away from the Anglican Church and formed an independent Harare diocese. He held the Anglican Cathedral in Harare and several other churches, with the help of police.

The schism left mainstream Anglicans without places of worship and many were subjected to intimidation and violence.

Omerjee's ruling stated that Kunonga did not have the right to the Anglican church property.

"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," said the judgment.

God's doing

After the ruling on Monday, Anglican worshipers sang, danced and ululated outside the court.

The head of Zimbabwe's mainstream Anglicans, Bishop Chad Gandiya, described Monday's ruling as a "pleasant surprise".

"We prayed, we waited and we have been vindicated," Gandiya said. "This is God's doing."

An earlier ruling made in August last year by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, another open supporter of Mugabe's party, had allowed Kunonga to retain the cathedral and its administrative offices, bank accounts and vehicles.

During the past five years, Kunonga had intensified seizures of the Anglican Church property, taking over orphanages, church buildings and schools countrywide with the help of police loyal to Mugabe.

Kunonga claims he left the mainstream Anglican Church because of its position on gay marriage.

Leaders of the global Anglican Communion have condemned gay relationships as a violation of Scripture.

However, the Anglican Communion is loosely organized without one authoritative leader such as a pope, so some individual provinces have accepted same-gender unions and in the United States an openly gay man was the Bishop of New Hampshire.

Mugabe is a bitter critic of homosexuality.


The former head of the worldwide Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, visited Zimbabwe last year and handed Mugabe a dossier detailing allegations of the intimidation of worshipers.

The report described a "litany of abuses" including murder, harassment and assaults of parishioners by police and Kunonga's followers.

Mugabe then claimed he was unfamiliar with the scale of intimidation experienced by mainstream Anglicans.

Gandiya, the Zimbabwe Anglican bishop, told The Associated Press that most parishioners who had taken to worshiping under trees and leased buildings are "ecstatic" at having their places of worship back.

"We have been in exile for five years but now we are going back home," he said.

  • bornwell.dennison - 2012-11-20 08:27

    Congratulation to Bishop Gandhiya and the Church,praise God for that,even during trying times you kept on praying and believing in HIM.You also took the legal route although you knew Zim Courts are compromised and biased,God is great HE never abandones HIS children.I plead with you not to be angry Mr Kunonga,ask God to deliever him from these evil chains and show him the light again,he is a good Leader,something,somewhere,somehow went wrong.God forgives us for countless trespasses,as HIS children we should forgive those who wrong and pain us.Now its time to pray for Zim to be freed,to be given wise leaders,selfless civil servants,and Leaders who will bring peace,stability,sustainability,progress,reconciliation and above all love and unity-God bless you all

      bob.slap.5 - 2012-11-20 16:09

      eish my man what are you smoking, its Gods will that they take what they want,, remember half brain mugabe does it,, pray all you want nothing will change

  • bornwell.dennison - 2012-11-20 17:00

    Hi bob.slap.5 thank you for your kind response,in life I dont smoke or drink alcohol(not that it is bad its just my choice).Dont dispair,dont give up,God will free us if we put HIM first.I will pray till the end of my time if I have to,God is hearing our cries,HE can see our suffering and its only a matter of time before Zimbabweans win their freedom back,win their beautiful smiles back,win their radiance back,and win their vigour back.Very soon crying will be replaced by laugthter,sadness by happiness,fighting by harmony,hatred by love and sanity will reign,even perpetrators of the worst atrocities will join in kindness and ask for forgiveness.Be positive my friend,talk to me again after next years elections-God bless you and good luck on your endevours

      munyaradzi.tachiona - 2012-11-20 22:42

      hey this sounds very inspiring hey,you really love Zim ,am proud of you fellow countrymen,yes all will be well,just look at platinum mines wanting to open new mines there,ppc cement wanting to open another plant all investments nearly a billion of us dollars,these guys are not crazy,they see what a lot of people who are very negative about Zimbabwe commenting here fail to see,Zim is a great country exporting even great leaders,the best voted C.E,O THIS year in South Africa,Mtn's one Dabengwa being from home,with our best education systems,the most educated ,disciplined and hard working ,honest,peaceful Africans ,the most literates who do not do violent strikes Zim is the place to invest in Africa and soon all pain shall be joy,we will be great again ,the pinnacle of Africa is where we belong.Soon black,white,indian,coloured,Shona and Ndebele Zimbabweans together as one shall sing Henry Olonga's song,Fly THE FLAG OF OUR NATION GLORY.

  • bornwell.dennison - 2012-11-21 11:20

    Hi Munyaradzi Thank you kindly for those wise and heartwarming words well appreciated.Zim is a beautiful country with Sons and Duaghters that are energetic,humble,loyal(hence the time it takes to be abused),peace loving people and above all intellegent.Once all this madness has settled down and the winds of politics have changed,our Country will prosper to unbelieveable heights,stay positive good things are coming to Zimbabwe-God bless you

  • pages:
  • 1