Another year, no progress

Forwards and backwards to nowhere in the Anglican Central African Province - an early ‘end of year’ report.

As we come towards the end of another year it is difficult to ascertain any improvement or progress in the Central African Province, over all things are worse.

In Malawi - priests and people remain without their bishop in the Diocese of Lake Malawi as the Bishops refuse to follow proper constitutional and canonical procedures to resolve the long-running impasse over the farcical ‘Court of Confirmation’ after the election of the new bishop in 2005.

In the Diocese of Upper Shire the bishops are still intending to force their preferred candidate on an unwilling diocese at their pre-Christmas meeting in Lusaka, Zambia to be held on 16th December (incorrectly reported by us previously as 21st December). The proposed imposition will take place there well away from the people of Malawi but will probably conflict with legal action being taken against the bishops. Reports are reaching us of sorely neglected diocese and there is still no resolution of the case of theft and sale of engineering machinery perpetrated by Archdeacon Thom Mpinga of Mangochi East.

In both dioceses the bishops have suggested that the plaintiffs remove their Court injunctions and ‘trust them’ – which proposal has been understandably greeted with derision by priests and people who have no confidence whatsoever that trickery, fast dealing and general duplicity will not be the result. Rarely in the Anglican Communion has there been such a wide-scale pastoral breakdown of trust and oversight between bishops and their clergy and people. Acting Dean Albert Chama of Northern Zambia must bear the responsibility and his current policy of force majeure will not work.

In Zimbabwe matters are worsening again and dangerously so with an effective failure of the political power sharing agreement. The only bright spot has been a well-deserved international award presented to Bishop Sebastian Bakare caretaker Bishop of Harare in the front line against the notorious ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga. On 10th November in Stockholm Sweden, Bishop Bakare received the highly respected ‘Per Anger’ human rights award. ‘I am humbled by the award’, said Bakare ‘It amply demonstrates that good will always reign over evil.’

This is true but in Zimbabwe the finality of the sentiment still seems some way off as our reporter says in a message received today:

We have had a slight move on the question of who owns the churches in the Diocese of Harare, but whether it is forwards or backwards who can say.

A week or two ago there was a move to return to using the church buildings.This in three or four places resulted in violence and arrests by the police. The riot squad were brought out in at least one church. So the Diocesan Registrar went to the police to point out that the judgement had been, in the interim (Justice Rita Makarau) judgement that church buildings should be shared (between Kunonga’s few supporters and the real diocese under Bishop Bakare).

However, the Members in Charge at the various police sub stations had all had letters signed by theChief of Police, Chihuri, telling them that CPCA worshippers were not to beallowed into the churches. When Chihuri himself was approached he is reported to have said that the order had 'come from above'. So our lawyers are now taking Chihuri to court on a charge of contempt of court for which the penalty is 30 days without the option. It is hoped that the order will be withdrawn.

Meantime we accept that we will not be 'home' for Christmas.

In Botswana the subliminal tentacles of Kunonga’s influence are increasingly troubling Bishop Trevor Mwamba who is facing a group of six dissident priests out to make political and legal trouble. Press coverage from the Mmegi newspaper and the Botswana Gazette have gleefully covered ridiculous calls from the troublemaking Kunonga supporters for Bishop Mwamba’s resignation. The Diocese of Botswana has issued a strong riposte available at Google search: Mmegi online, 10th November 2008.

No news at the moment from Zambia.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes that this ‘end of year’ article is a little early but we have issued it now as we can see no sign of any improvement in the Central African Province or change amongst the bishops. It’s all in the hands of God but at least everyone is united in praying that the rainy season, due to start soon will be a good one otherwise the big problem will be starvation.

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