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Anglican Diocese appeals against Kunonga court ruling

THE Anglican Diocese of Harare last Friday filed an application with the Supreme Court to re-instate the appeal against a High Court ruling that gave Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and his board of trustees custody and control of diocesan property, amid reports of continued harassment of Anglicans by the police.

Bishop Chad Gandiya, who was ordained last July, replacing acting Bishop Sebastian Bakare, confirmed yesterday that since last week’s ruling he had received reports from several clergies of harassment by the trustees in the company of the police and barring Anglicans from church establishments, including worshipping at the priests’ residences.

“Some of the clergies were told by Kunonga’s priests not to use church properties,” he said
“We are keeping an eye on things and have informed Vice-President (John) Nkomo of these developments. In Marondera they were told not to attend church services, even at the priest’s residence. We have also received reports from Melfort, Highlands and several other areas.”

The Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA, Diocese of Harare, has since applied to the High Court to stop any evictions and to have the matter dealt with as an urgent matter. CPCA spans four countries –– Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In its application to the Supreme Court, CPCA is asking for the reinstatement of the appeal against High Court Judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo’s ruling and wants to ensure that the matter is determined on its merits.

The appeal had been dismissed by Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba on a procedural technicality –– on the grounds that CPCA had failed to provide sufficient security for the applicant’s cost of appeal.

Contrary to state-media reports, Diocese of Harare secretary Father Clifford Dzawo told the Zimbabwe Independent that the Supreme Court did not grant Bishop Kunonga, an ardent supporter of President Robert Mugabe, and his trustees control over properties of the Anglican Diocese of Harare.

He said the matter pertaining to the ownership of diocesan property was still pending at the High Court and has not been disposed of.

“Since that matter was still pending in another court, the Supreme Court did not make any finding on it. It is therefore a misnomer to report that diocesan assets now belong to Dr Kunonga as the ownership of assets was never an issue in this appeal,” Father Dzawo said.

“The High Court is still to allocate the case to a judge and set the date for hearing.”

He said the matter before the Supreme Court was an appeal against Justice Hlatshwayo’s ruling regarding Kunonga and six other trustees of the Diocese of Harare.

The other trustees are Beaven Michael Gundu, Justin Nyazika, a P Majokwere, Onias Gatawa, Alfred Tome and Winter Reggie Shamuyarira.

Hlatshwayo’s order gave custody and control of the diocesan property to Kunonga and the six trustees, who have since left CPCA to form their own organisation known as the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, making Kunonga its archbishop.

“Since Kunonga and his trustees are no longer part of the CPCA, they cannot and are not part of the church that owns the property to which they are trustees. It is for this reason that the CPCA appealed against the order of Honourable Justice Hlatshwayo,” said Father Dzawo.

The Anglican saga has been ongoing since 2007 when Kunonga lost control of the church after he withdrew his diocese from the Anglican Church Province of Central Africa in protest against what he regards as the tolerance of homosexuality by Anglicans in the United Kingdom and the United States.

 

Faith Zaba

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