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Cry for help from Harare: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 9, 2011 p 8. September 15, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
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Bishop Chad Gandiya

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Harare has sent a distress signal to supporters in the West following the arrest of one of his clergymen on what he says are trumped up charges of theft.

Dr Chad Gandiya’s 6 September email, entitled “SOS – Prayer”, gives an “urgent prayer request for the clergy of the Diocese of Harare CPCA and in particular for the Rev Julius Zimbudzana and his family.”

“As I write this email Fr Julius, our priest at St Mary’s Parish in Highlands, Harare is in police custody having been arrested this morning. The charge is that of theft of church property worth US$1.5 million!!!!! This is very strange indeed as no parish in our diocese (perhaps the exception is the Cathedral Parish) has properties worth that much. He has been refused bail. The police claim they have clear instructions not to release him,” the Bishop wrote.

Last month the Diocese filed an appeal against the order of Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku giving breakaway bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga custody of the diocesan properties. On 4 August, Chief Justice Chidyausiku signed an order in chambers permitting the Diocese of Harare to maintain its lawsuit defending its ownership of the properties. However, the judge also ordered that pending a final ruling, custody of the buildings would remain with Dr Kunonga’s faction.

While the order attempted to preserve the status quo, where the diocese’s churches were held by Dr Kunonga, the ruling was used by Dr Kunonga to evict clergy from their vicarages — which had so far remained under the control of the Anglican Church.

On 24 August Dr Gandiya reported that Dr Kunonga’s henchmen were forcibly evicting clergy from their livings. “I have just spoken with our priest at St Matthew’s Church in Chinhoyi a few minutes ago who informed me that he had just come from hospital where he was attended to by a doctor on duty because of beatings in the head he received early this evening from Kunonga’s priest and a thug,” the Bishop wrote.

The Rev Jonah Mudowaya was beaten after he “refused to vacate the church house. He has made a report of the incident to the Chinhoyi police. This is an alarming development taking place because of the latest interim judgment given by the Chief Justice.

“Elsewhere in places like Highfield, Kunonga’s priests broke into church houses. In other places they have gone in the company of the police in order to intimidate our priests into vacating the houses but our priests have insisted on them producing court eviction orders and the presence of messengers of Court and thankfully the police have not forced the evictions,” Bishop Gandiya said.

The tempo of violence and intimidation has increased, Dr Gandiya wrote on 6 September. “Kunonga’s priests are after whatever property we have. Our lawyers are busy trying to stop this madness.

“My priests are greatly traumatised by these sad developments,” the Bishop said, adding that he had “spent all afternoon trying to see Fr Julius. We are praying that he is brought before the court tomorrow in the hope that justice will be done. Please pray with us.”

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