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Kunonga seizes hospital: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 16, 2011 p 8. September 20, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Zimbabwe.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Masvingo has come under legal assault from the breakaway bishop of Harare. With the backing of the police, Dr Nolbert Kunonga has evicted the clergy and staff of a mission hospital and school belonging to the neighbouring diocese.

In an interview with the state-run Harare Herald, Dr Kunonga said the seizure of the Daramombe Mission near Chivhu, was only the start as he planned on grabbing all of the assets of the Church of the Province of Central Africa in Zimbabwe.

In an email to the bishops of the province, the Bishop of Masvingo, the Rt Rev Godfrey Tawonezvi reported that a nurse on the staff of the Daramombe hospital had informed the director of the facility she recognized Dr Kunonga as the rightful owner of the church facility. The breakaway bishop had appointed her head nurse of the hospital, she said.

On 31 May, “the Bishop, Priest in Charge, and clinic staff had a meeting at the clinic to discuss some administrative issues.” Bishop Tawonezvi said. He spoke to the Kunonga nurse, telling her that “her services were no longer required at Daramombe mission. Our conversation with her did not even last a minute.” The Ministry of Health then transferred her to another facility.

The following day police arrested the hospital’s priest in charge and head nurse, and charged them with having made an “indecent assault” upon the Kunonga nurse. Bishop Tawonezvi was summoned to the police station on 3 June to answer questions about the alleged assault. And at the end of June the Ministry of Health rescinded its transfer order and sent the Kunonga nurse back to Daramombe.

Last week, the Rev Muyengwa Murombedzi, the Daramombe school headmaster, primary school headmistress and senior nursing staff were evicted from the mission hospital and school — many of whose furnishings were donated by the Diocese of Southwark. Acting upon a 4 August Supreme Court judgment that gave custody of the property to Bishop Kunonga, the Deputy Sheriff ordered the staff to leave.

Bishop Tawonezvi has gone to court to stop the evictions. He told the Herald: “They are using the Supreme Court judgment to destabilise the mission. I am the Bishop of Masvingo under which Daramombe falls and this judgment has nothing to do with our diocese. Kunonga wants to take advantage of the judgment to cause confusion.

“Kunonga and his thugs always resort to lies and criminal activities,” Bishop Tawonezvi wrote to the bishops of Central Africa. “We will continue to resist efforts by Kunonga to take over the Daramombe mission. We are grateful for your prayers.”