Controversial ex-communicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s sympathizers have embarked on a fresh bid to grab Anglican properties following last week’s takeover of St Luke’s Bvumbura Parish in Chikomba.

Kunonga formed a splinter group, the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, after he was expelled from the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in 2008.

He seized over 90 properties belonging to the Anglican Church before losing control of to bishop Chad Gandiya in November 2012 following a landmark Supreme Court ruling, ending the two’s six-year-long battle which sometimes turned violent.

Last week, in total disregard of the court ruling, Kunonga’s loyalists, with the backing of local traditional leaders, Zanu PF politicians, and government officials, forced out Gandiya’s parishioners at St Luke’s Bvumbura, a Daramombe Mission Outstation, claiming it was their property.

Reverend Muyengwa Murombedzi, the Outstation’s priest-in-charge, yesterday told the Daily News that CPCA congregants had been ordered off the property by Chief Chivese and headman Razaro Gombiro Mudavanhu, to make way for Reverend Tirivanhu Mugomo, a Kunonga loyalist.

“Chief Chivese has ordered us to vacate the premises threatening us with arrest if we ever come back,” Murombedzi said.

“His aide, one Mushure, who is also a Zanu PF councillor for ward 16, even threatened to beat us up if we defied the order.

“The threats came after we had pointed out that the court had ruled that we are the bona fide owners of the premises.”

Chief Chivese declined to comment on his manoeuvres to allow Kunonga’s people to reclaim the church property.

“Who are you to question what obtains at my court? I cannot talk to you about that,” Chivese said before hanging up.

Murombedzi said Chivese told him the CPCA congregants should be confined to Daramombe, arguing that St Luke’s Bvumbura was not under the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo — an area under the ambit the CPCA.

Murombedzi said initially, Kunonga’s loyalists claimed that Chikomba district education officer Ngoni Mujuru — formerly Daramombe Mission School head — had earmarked the church for conversion into a primary school.

He said Mujuru had confirmed that to him, an allegation strenuously denied by the former.

“We have been having problems with Kunonga loyalists who continue to claim ownership of St Luke’s Bvumbura,” Murombedzi said.

“Today (Monday) Mujuru told me that indeed he intends to turn the church into a school.”

Lameck Tsoka, the officer commanding Chikomba district police, confirmed they were handling the church ownership wrangle.

“We have received reports of the wrangle from both parties and we have advised them to go back to the courts to seek redress,” Tsoka said.

“The problem is that while there is a Supreme Court judgment in favour of the Gandiya faction, Kunonga’s faction claims that they built the church, so as police, we cannot pass judgment.”

Critics say the DisPol’s move is surprising given that he must enforce a ruling of the Supreme Court and eject Kunonga’s thugs.

Chivese and Mudavanhu have been at the centre of the property wrangle between Gandiya and Kunonga for long.

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