THE battle to control the Anglican Diocese of Harare pitting the Church of the Province of Central Africa against ousted Bishop Nolbert Kunonga rag
ed on this week with the province appointing retired Bishop Sebastian Bakare as the acting bishop of the capital.
Kunonga was fired from the church last week after he withdrew the Diocese of Harare from the province, made up of Anglican churches in Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe, citing rampant homosexuality in the church.
The controversial Kunonga, however, insisted he was still in charge of the diocese and wanted to affiliate it to the Anglican Province of Kenya.
Sources in the church said Bakare — a former bishop of Manicaland — was appointed by the dean of the province Albert Chama to take over Kunonga’s position for a year before the election of a new bishop for the capital.
Bakare was appointed after it was realised he was a firm character and that he was someone who could stand up to Kunonga.
“Chama also considered that Bakare was well respected and had a demonstrable and respected record which endear him to the people in Harare,” one of the sources said. “It was also realised that Bakare was mature and courageous enough to make bold decisions and command respect.”
Apart from appointing Bakare, Chama also sanctioned the church to facilitate the issuing of summons against Kunonga for the return of its assets and investments.
This followed a ruling by High Court judge, Justice Elphas Chitakunye, on Sunday that the church’s application to compel the controversial Kunonga to surrender the assets and investments was not urgent.
“What the province is proceeding in doing (appointing Bakare) is to set up its Anglican leadership structures since the dismissal of Kunonga last week,” another source said. “That dismissal stands and his meeting last Saturday is inconsequential as bishops are appointed by archbishops…similarly they are fired by archbishops.”
Kunonga held a special synod on Saturday and the state media reported that the dismissed bishop was backed by the congregation to withdraw the diocese from the province.
However, sources who attended the synod said the meeting was “contested and chaotic” as dissatisfaction was raised with Kunonga’s leadership style.
The sources said the synod was not legitimate because the required 18 days notice was not given. Further, synod members were not given agenda papers to ensure adequate publication and distribution of what the meeting was to discuss.
Yesterday, the Diocese of Harare Trust vice-chairperson Phillip Mutasa said there was no going back on the expulsion of Kunonga from the church.
“What Kunonga has done is like having a child who denies his or her surname and family. In other words there is no Anglican diocese which exists on its own. Each diocese must have a surname and that surname is found in belonging to a province,” Mutasa said. “Kunonga withdrew from the Province of Central Africa and he can no longer claim to be part of the Anglican church or communion. He is now something else.”