Deposed bishop still vexes Zimbabwe

Published January 2, 2008

The former bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, has reportedly resorted to forgery in an attempt to discredit and stop the appointment of Sebastian Bakare as the diocese’s interim bishop, the Church Times has reported.

Bishop Kunonga’s attempt to withdraw Harare from the Anglican Province of Central Africa had earlier resulted in his own dismissal.

Church Times said the Harare Herald newspaper had been informed by Bishop Kunonga that Bishop Bakare, the retired bishop of Manicaland, had turned down the Harare appointment because he wanted more money.

The newspaper also reported that a “correspondence” between Bishop Albert Chama, dean of the Province of Central Africa, and the “Anglican Church Harare Diocese,” stated that the church has “since appointed Zambian bishop, L. Mwenda as a replacement, further plunging the church into administrative chaos.”

The bishop of Botswana, Trevor Mwamba, said the letter, supposedly signed by Bishop Chama, was a forgery. “It is propaganda warfare…It is lies upon lies – it is amazing how they have spun it up,” he said. Bishop Bakare said the report was a “complete fabrication and blatantly mischievous and misleading.”

A meeting of the diocese’s churchwardens and clergy earlier released a statement that Bishop Kunonga and his supporters had engaged in a campaign to “destabilize the diocese and the provincial church, and bring into disrepute the church as a whole,” and are no longer licensed to exercise “any ecclesiastical functions.”

Bishop Kunonga recently travelled to Kampala, reportedly in at attempt to ally his breakaway group with the Church of Uganda.

Meanwhile, Bishop Kunonga told journalists who were covering the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala he strongly supports the policies of President Robert Mugabe, who is accused of human rights abuses.

“The West should stop demonizing Mr. Mugabe. He is a man who was democratically elected and redistributed land which the white man had taken away,” Bishop Kunonga said.

The Zimbabwe government has seized land belonging to nearly all of Zimbabwe’s 4,500 white commercial farmers since 2000. It has said that under its land reform programs the farms have been allocated to landless blacks – many of whom lack agricultural skills. One farm seized from its former white owner was given to Bishop Kunonga.

Bishop Kunonga denied reports there are human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, describing the reports as lies emanating from Western countries.

With files from Ecumenical News International.


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