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Court throws Dr Kunonga out of Zimbabwe’s churches: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 7. November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, Zimbabwe.
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A three-judge panel of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court has held the properties of the Diocese of Harare belong to the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and are to be administered by the Bishop of Harare, Dr. Chad Gandiya.

Supreme Court Judge Yunus Omerjee on 19 Nov 2012 dismissed the claims made by the former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and ordered that he return control to Dr. Gandiya. Dr. Gandiya greeted the news with joy.

“Today is a day of thanksgiving for the love, grace, mercy and faithfulness of our God. To God be the glory, Great things he has done! We will forever remember and sing how gracious our God is. We call upon all members of our Diocese to be gracious also in winning.”

In 2007 Dr. Kunonga broke with the CPCA to form the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. The breakaway bishop claimed his reasons for leaving the CPCA were due to its support of homosexuality and progressive Western theology. However, the CPCA has long opposed the innovations of doctrine and discipline made by some Western churches, and notes the controversial bishop had been the subject of investigations for fraud, heresy and misconduct.

He was alleged to have ordered the murder of disloyal clergy and was a vocal supporter of the country’s strongman, President Robert Mugabe.  In return for his loyalty, the regime gave Dr. Kunonga a farm expropriated from a white commercial farmer.  The security services and police also supported Dr Kunonga, using violence to expel Anglicans from their churches who would not pledge their loyalty to him. Court rulings that ordered Dr. Kunonga to share the use of church properties with Dr. Gandiya’s supporters were ignored, and attempts by constables to enforce them were blocked by the secret police.

Last month oral argument was presented before the Supreme Court panel on the seven Anglican Church appeals. At the close of oral argument the court dismissed five appeals as defective. Two appeals that determined the ownership were taken under consideration.

At the hearing attorneys Adrian De Bourbon and Thabani Mpofu, appearing for the CPCA, argued that in a letter dated 21 Sept 2010 Dr. Kunonga had resigned as Bishop of Harare of the CPCA and that the province had accepted his resignation on 16 Nov. The formation of the Anglican Church of Zimbabe by Dr. Kunonga was a schismatic act that did not vest control of CPCA properties in the new entity.

Attorneys Tawanda Kanengoni and Charles Nyika appearing on behalf of Dr. Kunonga argued the former bishop and his board of appointed trustess for the Diocese of Harare were still members of the CPCA.  Dr. Kunonga’s letter of resignation did not conform to the canons of the CPCA and was void.  The dispute centered round who was the proper Bishop of Harare. The court held it was Dr. Gandiya.

Dr. Kunonga did not respond to email queries asking for his comments, but in a statement released after the verdict was handed down, Dr. Gandiya called upon the Anglicans of Zimbabwe to rebuild the diocese. “The first thing we ask every parish to do when you go back is to carry out thorough inspection of all our buildings.”

“Assess the damage, note what needs to be done and carry out a full inventory of what we left behind when we were evicted,” he said.

The “rebuilding of God’s people in our diocese should be a priority also. Our people were greatly traumatised by the persecution of the last five years. They are in need of healing,” also the bishop said. “Come let us work together, let us rise up and build! Renovate! Paint! Let us do it all to God’s glory.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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