jump to navigation

Harare court halts purge of Anglican teachers: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 21, 2011 p 6. October 22, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, Zimbabwe.
Tags: , ,
comments closed

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Education has ordered the immediate reinstatement of church school staff fired by breakaway bishop Dr. Nolbert Kunonga. The 13 Oct 2011 government order comes in the wake of a court ruling which held the dismissal of the staff at the Daramombe Mission was unlawful.

Last month the deputy sheriff, acting on a writ obtained by Dr. Kunonga in the drawn out dispute over the control of church property in Zimbabwe, evicted the head teachers of the mission’s primary and secondary schools and 12 other staffers, including the tuck shop steward.  Located in the Mashonaland East Province some 120 miles south of Harare, the mission school was destroyed in fighting during the war against white rule. Over the past decade it was rebuilt and is now one of the leading schools in the region.

In an interview published in The Zimbabwean, Harare Diocesan Secretary, the Rev. Clifford Dzavo, said the Anglican Church had so far lost 90 churches and 70 rectories valued at over $50 million to Dr. Kunonga.  The breakaway bishop has also sought to take over the church’s schools, orphanages and hospitals, diverting their income to his own use.

The Harare diocese filed suit last month, asking the court to block the staff firings, arguing a lower court order granting temporary possession of the properties could not be construed to allow Dr. Kunonga to fire state teachers. On 12 Oct 2011 Harare High Court Justice Chinembiri Bhunu held the breakaway bishop had gone too far.

“It is a fundamental rule of law that no one shall be evicted or dispossessed without due process of law and without being heard. The need to hear the other side before making any determination affecting the rights of another is the bedrock upon which our legal system is founded,” the court held.

“It follows” Justice Bhunu said, the lower court “did not mean that [Dr. Kunonga] could evict and dismiss employees without recourse to due process of the law.

“The evictions of members of the School Development Committee from premises they previously occupied in terms of their respective contracts of employment were therefore, illegal and not permissible at law though they were carried out through the auspices of the Deputy Sheriff,” the judge ruled.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party’s national executive council also issued a statement in support of the diocese last week.

The MDC faction led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai released a statement on 12 Oct saying: “Churches have ceased to be a place of worship and spiritual solitude but have become havens of political patronage and violence. The Anglican Church community has, since 2007, been traumatized as the police and Zanu (PF) continue to side with a group loyal to renegade Bishop Nolbert Kunonga to destabilise parishes and ordinary people.”