The fight for the control of the Anglican Church in Harare has taken a new twist after the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) filed a Constitutional appeal, challenging a recent order by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku giving temporary custodianship of church properties to excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga.
According to appeal papers filed by the diocese, the CPCA contends that paragraph 3 of the order that granted Kunonga custody of Anglican properties in Case Number SC 180/09, judgement Number SC19/11 by the Chief Justice in his chambers to the effect that the ‘noting of the appeal should not suspend the operation of the order’ is null and void, as it contravenes sections 18(1), 18(1 a), 18 (9) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“Any actions taken by or on behalf or in the name of Kunonga and his trustees on the basis or pursuant to Judgment SC19/11 should be reversed, and the status quo aute as at the time that judgment was given, shall prevail,” reads the appeal by CPCA.
CPCA argues that, following the ruling by Chief Justice Chidyausiku, the clergy and members of the laity in 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’.
Rev. Clifford Dzavo, who is the secretary of the Harare diocese, said the latest victim is Rev. Jonah Mudowaya who was severely assaulted in Chinhoyi on Wednesday August 24, 2011. “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 [in the Anglican Church] and was opposed to the land reforms in Zimbabwe, is that 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,” he said.
Rev. Dzavo alleged that Kunonga left the Church because of being greedy for 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 that 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. Bishop Gandiya has no time to engage in trivial warfare with a man without a known cause, except fighting for relevance, which he [Kunonga] has lost. Kunonga and his thugs can misrepresent facts as much as they want on the CPCA’s position on homosexuality, but everyone, who has eyes, can see that Bishop Chad has a wife and family, all clergy have happy and solid families and senior politicians from across the political divide are genuine Anglicans and attend CPCA services.”
The Supreme Court recently dealt a blow to the Bishop Chad Gandiya faction of the Anglican Church in Harare, ruling that excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga remains the custodian of all the Church’s assets for the interim period until the matter is finalized in the courts.
In the ruling done in Chambers, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, however, confirmed the consecration of Bishop Gandiya as the Bishop of Harare after dismissing an application by Kunonga to have the installation of his rival declared null and void.
Bishop Kunonga was excommunicated by the Anglican Church after trying to unilaterally withdraw the Harare Diocese from the Central African Province on the flimsy excuse that the province supported homosexuality.