Gun-toting bishop fails to block return of Harare’s churches: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 7. December 28, 2012Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
Tags: Diocese of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga
After five years of exile, Anglicans in the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland have been allowed to return home. While isolated incidents of violence and harassment have been reported Diocese of Harare spokesman Ms. Precious Shumba reports that most churches have been peacefully returned to the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA).
On 3 Dec 2012 the government-backed Harare Herald quoted Ms. Shumba as saying: “This weekend we have not witnessed any cases of violence and church services were conducted peacefully. The evictions are also going on peacefully with people moving out without any resistance.”
After breaking with the Church of the Province of Central Africa, the former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga was given trusteeship of the properties of the Diocese of Harare, while his ally, the former Bishop of Manicaland, Elson Jakazi, gained controlled of that diocese’s lands.
In 2009 High Court judge Ben Hlatshwayo handed down an order giving Dr. Kunonga trusteeship of the properties pending adjudication by the Supreme Court. Last month a three judge panel dismissed all of Bishop Kunonga’s and Bishop Jakazi’s claims and ordered the properties be turned over immediately to the CPCA.
Most of the 72 Harare parishes were turned over to the CPCA without incident, as few were being used as active churches. Many had been rented by Dr. Kunonga to schools and businesses, and one church rectory was reported being used as a brothel.
However, the Daily News reported Dr. Kunonga was not going without a fight. When its reporters visited the Cathedral Church of St Mary and All Saints in central Harare on 29 Nov, they reported that threatened them. The bishop was “sweating profusely” it reported and had a gun holstered at his hip. He warned the reporters: “You think I am playing with you, I can shoot you.”
The Daily News also witnessed a scuffle between Dr. Kunonga and a constable, who blocked the former bishop from leaving the cathedral until he turned over the keys to the diocesan car.
On 30 Nov the diocese reported the Rev. Naboth Manzongo “sustained a deep cut on the forehead after being hit by a brick” by the Rev. Tendai Mukariri, a “Kunonga priest.”
Fr. Mukariri “and his thugs were engaged in massive physical violence against the [Harare} Deputy Sheriff and his team” at the cathedral, the diocese reported. Six Kunonga supporters were arrested and Fr. Manzongo was taken to the hospital.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.