The following letter was sent to RelZim on November 4 by Rev. Tendai Mutongomanya of the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe.
A RESPONSE TO DOSSIER OF “ALLEGED ABUSES” PRESENTED TO THE PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE BY ROWAN WILLIAMS AND CPCA BISHOPS
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has come and gone, but the challenges facing Anglicans in Zimbabwe for the past four years remain unresolved. This is chiefly because the Archbishop is responsible for problems rocking the church, not only in Zimbabwe, but the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Archbishop’s visit to Zimbabwe and the presentation of dossier of “alleged abuses”, to President Mugabe, has raised more questions than answers. It boggles the mind why Zimbabwean bishops would wait for so long to appraise their own President of the alleged “abuses” and “persecution.” Surely, why would they watch Bishop Kunonga “killing,” “harassing” and “persecuting” people whilst waiting for Rowan Williams to come and “confront” their own president over the abuse of their own “Church people?” Why would they watch the Zimbabwe Republic Police (Z.R.P.) “harass” and “persecute” their priests and congregations? For four years without appraising their leader of this “illegal,”; “unwarranted” and “unprofessional” behaviour?
C.P.C.A. is well known for their love of litigation. They dragged Bishop Kunonga to court on numerous occasions on fabricated and petty charges. Why did they shelve these “serious allegations” against Kunonga only to put them in a dossier form and ask the Head of State to “use his powers” to nullify court orders? The men of the cloth claimed that they were petitioning the President in confidence, that as Head of State, he would bring an end to the “persecution” of Anglicans. We wonder why they paraded their “plea” to the President, word for word, in the electronic media.
It seems the visit and the dossier were well calculated moves to provide a world stage to demonise Zimbabwe, targeting the judicial system and the security forces (Police). The so called “Litany of abuses” is nothing but brilliant fiction. Interestingly, their unsubstantiated claims and allegations are very similar in word and fashion, to those made by some political players in Zimbabwe. The question remains, “who authored these ‘lies’ and for what reason?”
Violence and Intimidation
It is interesting to note that the C.P.C.A. took Bishop Kunonga to secular courts after being embarrassed in the Ecclesiastical Court in 2005 when they made unsubstantiated allegations and fabricated charges against the bishop. All the charges were dropped and Bishop Kunonga was pronounced innocent. Having this background they were aware that if they take the bishop to the Ecclesiastical court, they would again be embarrassed, because the bishop did not have any case to answer.
This time they resorted to secular courts, where again, they were embarrassed when the High Court declared bishop Kunonga as the legitimate Bishop of Harare. Bishop Kunonga was also declared as the legitimate chairman of the Board of Trustees who are the custodians of all Church properties in the Diocese of Harare. The Supreme Court also confirmed the same judgements.
It is in this context of losing their case, both in the Ecclesiastical and secular courts, that the men of cloth are now seeking political intervention in ecclesiastical matters. In essence, they are asking the President to disregard the outcomes of the courts (rule of law). They are striving to achieve this by deliberately lying to the President and the world. Expectedly, they never mentioned any court judgements and their implications, in their dossier in an effort to tarnish Bishop Kunonga’s image and draw “sympathy” from the President and the entire world.
Bishop Kunonga has not, and will never deny any one access to Church buildings or the basic right to worship. Churches are always open. Those who choose to worship under trees, in classrooms or in bushes do that in their own volition. It is cheap propaganda to claim that an 80-year-old Jessica Mandeya was murdered because she belonged to C.P.C.A. Why would Bishop Kunonga murder an 80-year-old from Murehwa who does not aspire to be a church leader and spare the likes of Bakare and Gandiya? If C.P.C.A. surely has information as they claim, then, they must help the police to bring the murderer to book.
The C.P.C.A. should blame itself for clashing with the Police, because they always choose to ignore court orders. When the police intervene to enforce court orders, they cry foul. They claim harassment and persecution when in fact, they are persecuting themselves by refusing to accept any court ruling against them. Ordinary Anglicans who want to worship in church buildings or Shrines are welcome, provided they acknowledge and respect the legitimate authority of the Church. Anglican Church is a church of order. There cannot be two bishops in one diocese at a time. This brings confusion and chaos. Therefore those who choose to pray under Rev. Gandiya should do so earnestly, and stop misleading the public that they are being denied access, when in effect they left the Church in their own volition.
All the Primary and Secondary Schools in the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Harare have been administered by Bishop Kunonga, as the Responsible authority for the last ten years. Therefore, claims that Bishop Kunonga has taken over schools, which were already under his leadership, when he assumed the bishopric of Harare, are malicious and misleading. Anglican Mission schools have always been among the best performing schools in Zimbabwe. It rather is surprising that, men of the cloth decide to make claims that academic standards have fallen without giving any statistics. For the record, most of our schools which include, Langham Girls High, St. John’s Chikwaka, St. Mary’s Chitungwiza, and Daramombe, have always maintained high pass rates (an average of 90%) for the past ten years. They have scooped District and Provincial Merit Awards in academic excellence. In Manicaland our Mission schools under Bishop Jakazi, such as St David’s Bonda, St. Augustine’s Penhalonga, St. Faith’s Rusape and St. Anne’s Goto, are always envied by parents for their academic excellence. We challenge the C.P.C.A. or any other interested parties, to desist from making wild claims for the purposes of tarnishing other people’s images. The right approach would be to substantiate their claims. Statistics are readily available in our schools and all District and Provincial education Offices.
On the issue of teachers and ancillary staff in our Mission schools, they are encouraged to follow the Mission ethos and work together with the responsible authority (Diocese led by Bishop Kunonga). In the event that teachers violate Mission statutes, they cannot in any way be dismissed by the Church, as the Church is not their employer. They are referred back to the Ministry of education. There is, therefore, nothing sinister about the Church referring back to the Ministry, teachers who refuse to work together with the responsible authority for the development of the school. For the record, Bishops do not appoint teachers or headmasters, they only recommend to the Ministry of Education. Therefore, the rhetoric that Bishop Kunonga appointed his stooges to be teachers and or headmasters only make sense to those who are not familiar with policies of the Ministry of Education in Zimbabwe.
Relief and Development
We would want to put it on record that, we cannot sacrifice the Holy Scriptures, our human dignity and African values, because of the love of money. We have rejected and will continue to reject financial assistance that comes with strings attached. This is where we differ most with Bishops in the C.P.C.A. They are always branding themselves as professional beggars who cannot lead their churches efficiently and effectively without the British Pounds. The British give them the “aid” but it comes with a lot of requests –as payback. Some African Bishops have accepted homosexuality not because they do not know that it is wrong, but because if they denounce homosexuality, the British Church and government will withdraw financial assistance.
We would rather mobilise our own people, pull together our resources for the development of our church and country rather than “sell” the Gospel for pieces of silver. If the British Church and Archbishop of Canterbury really care about Zimbabweans as they profess, then why not help by confronting their government over the illegal sanctions? We believe that it is time for all Church leaders, who claim to love Zimbabwe, to engage those who have destroyed our economy and urge them to remove the sanctions. It is hypocritical for Rowan Williams to seek to donate to us when his government has created poverty in our country. They always want to donate so that they can control our destiny in political, economic, religious and social spheres. Rowans please keep your dirty money, God will always provide for his people without any strings attached.
Administration, Clergy Training and Housing
C.P.C.A. claim to be forking out a lot of money through rentals and accommodation. We reiterate that no one is being denied access to church property provided that he or she subscribes to Church law. If one chooses otherwise, then they have to be ready to enjoy the consequences. It is always one Cathedral, one Bishop and one throne in a Diocese. We will not allow any parallel structures within the church.
We urge Gandiya and his followers to stop misleading the entire world that they are being denied access to churches, schools, hospitals and shrines. The truth of the matter is that they are being denied access to the bishopric of Harare because there is no vacancy. The canonical and legal bishop of Harare is still in office and cannot be removed by anyone through dubious means. Ordinary Anglicans who want to worship God cannot be denied access by anyone. We encourage them to go to Anglican churches and worship in peace. They must refuse to be used by Gandiya in his quest to take over the Bishopric of Harare through the back door. Similarly in Manicaland, Anglicans should refuse to be used by Makoni as ladders to the bishopric of Manicaland. Bishop E. Jakazi remains the canonical and legal bishop of Manicaland.
We would want to make it clear that we will never support homosexuality for any reason. We rebuke Ecclesiastical imperialism in whatever form it may come. The C.P.C.A. deliberately lied to the President of Zimbabwe and the entire world at the instruction of their troubled Rowan Williams. They deliberately shelved court orders. For them, the rule of law only applies where their interests are concerned. The courts are competent only when they win. The police are impartial when they do their wishes rather than enforce court orders. This is why they had the audacity to approach the Head of State and asked him for political interference in matters that are sub judice. In essence they are asking the President to violate the rule of law which they preach so much when white interests are concerned. We call them to repent, be responsible and retract their shameful request. They took Bishop Kunonga to the courts and should therefore abide with court rulings and stop seeking political interference in matters that are before the courts.
Compiled in the Office of the Bishop of Harare
The Rt Rev Dr. Nolbert Kunonga