THE Anglican Province of Central Africa has initiated moves to expel controversial bishop of the capital, Nolbert Kunonga, after he withdrew the Ha
rare diocese from the province alleging that it had failed to censure bishops sympathetic towards homosexuality.
Kunonga, a staunch supporter of the ruling Zanu PF government, wrote a letter to the province’s Archbishop and Primate Bernard Malango on September 21 pulling the Harare diocese out of the Province of Central Africa. Malango has since retired.
The province has concluded that Kunonga’s action is of the effect that the Harare diocese is no longer part of the church. The legal process in motion is meant to regain control of the diocese.
The province through lawyers Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans wrote to Kunonga this week asking him to surrender the church’s property and divest himself of the rights of being a signatory to the diocese of Harare’s bank accounts and investments.
“We are instructed that despite your withdrawal from our client you continue to conduct episcopal duties in the diocese of Harare and administrative business at our client’s premises at Paget House (Harare),” wrote the lawyers. “We are also instructed that you remain in possession and continue to use our client’s motor vehicles being a Toyota double cab, Toyota single cab and a Toyota Fortuner.”
The lawyers said they were instructed that Kunonga was enjoying access to the diocesan and provincial bank accounts being an ordinary and a foreign currency account held by the Diocesan Trust and Central Funds with the Standard Chartered Bank, Unity Square branch in Harare.
Further, Kunonga, the lawyers said, also had access and was a signatory to the diocesan investments with Imara Asset Managers and with Kingdom Asset Management.
“We are instructed that all these assets described above are held in trust by the Diocesan Trust for the benefit of the diocese of Harare but remain the property of our client, Church of the Province of Central Africa,” reads the letter.
The lawyers or-dered Kunonga to complete the necessary documentation to re-move his name as signatory to church investments.
“Following your withdrawal from our client it follows therefore that you must immediately complete the necessary document to divest yourself of the rights of being a signatory to the two accounts held by the diocese of Harare with Standard Chartered Bank of Zimbabwe.
“In the same vein there is no justification for your continued conduct of Episcopal duties as Diocesan Bishop and any other business at our client’s premises wherever situated and particularly from the Paget House offices,” the letter reads. “The motor vehicles described above in your use can no longer be left at your disposal in the circumstances.”
The lawyers gave Kunonga up to Tuesday to write to them undertaking to cooperate with the church to sign all necessary documents relinquishing his position as a signatory to the bank accounts and investments.
“In that letter you must also undertake that you will immediately cease using our client’s motor vehicles and that you will deliver them to our client at an address to be given to you,” the lawyers wrote. “You must also go further in that letter to undertake that you will immediately cease using our client’s motor vehicles and that you will deliver them to our client at an address to be given to you.”
The lawyers said Kunonga’s failure to respond to their letter would force them to make a court application to protect their client’s interests.
However, Kunonga did not respond to the letter.
Documents in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent reveal that the Province of Central Africa will soon file an urgent High Court application to force Kunonga to surrender the church assets.
In a certificate of urgency signed by Simon Sadomba of Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans, the church avers that the assets in question were the sole benefit of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, which in turn allocated them to the Harare diocese for use.
“The assets,” read the certificate, “are held in trust by the Diocesan Trust.”
“Following first respondent (Kunonga)’s withdrawal from the church of the Province of Central Africa, first respondent has no right to remain in possession of the applicant’s assets including the bank’s funds, investments, movable and immovable assets,” wrote Sadomba. “Applicant entertains a well-founded fear that the first respondent will fund his new ministry with the applicant’s resources as he has access to the Applicant’s investments and funds.”
The lawyer argued that the continued use of the province’s office by Kunonga “to further his new-found ministry” had deprived the Harare diocese of its offices, office furniture and secretariat.
“To enable the continued existence of the applicant in the form of the Diocese of Harare Anglican Church it is inevitable that the first respondent be urgently interdicted from continued possession of the applicant’s assets and also be interdicted from accessing the applicant’s resources by way of investments and bank accounts,” Sadomba argued.
He added that the Province of Central Africa would suffer irreparable harm in the event that such interdict is not granted.
“Indeed the ministry of the applicant will be severely affected if it has no use of its office and various materials in its office (and) the funds and investments are spirited away by the first respondent,” Sadomba said. “No civil action against the first respondent can secure the immediate refund of these funds and investments. Without the funds the applicant cannot meet its basic obligations like clergy’s salaries and allowances and service bills.”
Harare Diocese Trust vice chairperson Philip Mutasa yesterday confirmed the pending court action against Kunonga, but said he was not at liberty to disclose information on the matter.
Mutasa said: “We will follow the instructions of the province. A resolute statement will be issued shortly by the province.”