On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down five appeals lodged by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga over High Court judgements made earlier over the ownership of properties of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA). As a result, rebel Anglican Church “Archbishop” Nolbet Kunonga has made a major climb-down saying he is still part of the CPCA, a church he left in 2007.
Arguing before three Supreme Court judges, Luke Malaba, Vernanda Ziyambi and Yunus Omarjee, Kunonga’s lawyer Tawanda Kanengoni of Chikumbirike and Partners said the argument by the applicants (CPCA) that Kunonga seceded from the Anglican Church is a nullity on which legal arguments could not be based.
The CPCA which is being represented by advocates Adrian Phillip de Bourbon and Thabani Mpofu argues that there has been a secession (schism) in the Anglican Church with two distinct formations one led by Kunonga and the other led by the Archbishop of CPCA.
In 2007, Kunonga withdrew from the CPCA and founded a new independent Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe where he became the archbishop.
However, this week the man who has grabbed the Anglican properties following a High Court ruling by Judge Ben Hlatshwayo in 2009 which gave him custodianship of the church’s properties, said he still submits to the dictates of the CPCA and is a mere bishop.
CPCA’s lawyer de Bourbon argued the reason why the church was in court was because Kunonga, whose support for President Robert Mugabe is an open secret, walked away from the church and is now presiding over the church properties clinging on Hlatswayo’s judgement which they now want the superior court to overturn.
Bishop Chad Gandiya is the incumbent bishop for the province of Harare a position that Kunonga now claims to hold.
Kunonga’s lawyer Kanengoni said that their argument is based on two letters: one written by Kunonga declaring he is leaving the church and the other one wrote by the CPCA accepting Kunonga’s stepping down.
Kanengoni said both letters were defective as they did not adhere to the Anglican Church constitution.
“Having established that what was done was a nullity, the High Court found that the status of this person [Kunonga] had not changed. This province of the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe is now defunct and Kunonga is no longer an archbishop. There is no Church of the Province of Zimbabwe,” said Kanengoni.
Justice Malaba reserved his ruling on the matter of property cases after hearing arguments from both parties.