In Zimbabwe, renegade bishop’s backers evict priest

Published August 16, 2011

Bishop Chad Gandiya, head of the diocese of Zimbabwe, has expressed fears the evictions would disrupt the work of the church. File photo: Marites Sison

Harare, Zimbabwe –Supporters of renegade Zimbabwean Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga have forced a priest and his family out of their home following a court ruling giving Kunonga control over church assets, a church spokesman said on Aug.16.

"There has been an eviction at St. James in Mabvuku," Michael Chingore, registrar for the Anglican Diocese of Harare, told ENInews.

"The Rev. Dzikamai Mudenda and his family left after they were threatened by people from the Kunonga group who came with copies of the court judgment. They have been going around the vestries and parishes dropping copies of the judgment and demanding that the church officers leave."

Chingore said other priests have received stamped copies of the judgment from supporters of Kunonga and been ordered to move out.

Bishop Chad Gandiya, head of the diocese, expressed fears the evictions would disrupt the work of the church and said arrangements were being made to provide shelter for those affected.

"I now know that all our priests who were still in parish rectories have received the stamped latest court judgment delivered by Kunonga’s people and in one incident they were in the company of the police," Gandiya said in an email message.

"They told our priests to move out. Our parishes are busy finding alternative accommodation for them. We don’t know who he is going to put in these houses. This is not going to be easy at all. It will disrupt their family life and ministry," Gandiya wrote.

"Kunonga was given custodianship of [Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA)] properties when he is no longer a member of our church and province and he is now evicting CPCA priests and we don’t know who he is going to put in these houses – certainly not CPCA people! God help us." The case now goes to the Supreme Court.

Kunonga, an avowed supporter of President Robert Mugabe, fell out with the Anglican church when he left the Church of the Province of Central Africa and was subsequently excommunicated in 2007. Among other things, he accused the church of being pro-gay.

He later formed his self-styled Province of Zimbabwe and claimed ownership of church buildings  and other properties, including schools. Kunonga, with the support of police and henchmen, has seized CPCA church property and used violence to break up church services.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Kunonga was quoted as saying he aimed to control the 3,000 Anglican churches, schools, hospitals and other properties in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.

A recent judgment in Zimbabwe’s High Court upheld Gandiya’s appointment as Harare’s bishop but also gave Kunonga custodianship of all church properties belonging to the CPCA.


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