Anglican Information reports:
The Diocese of Northern Malawi
The Rt Rev’d Christopher Boyle, whose resignation as bishop of Northern Malawi we reported in our last issue, is to take up a new position in the Diocese of Leicester, UK. Formerly under the patronage of USPG he will become an Assistant Bishop in Leicester with special responsibility for immigrant communities. His surprise announcement comes at a time when many internal pressures continue in the Central African Province.
The Diocese of Upper Shire
The Rev’d Brighton Malasa, the thirty year old nominee of the Provincial Bishops will be confirmed as bishop at a Court of Confirmation to be held in Zimbabwe on 3rd March. If and when consecrated Malasa will become the youngest serving bishop in the Anglican Communion. Correspondents have pointed out that there is a precedent for such a youthful appointment, albeit 61 years ago, in the person of William J Gordon Jr who in 1948 was elected as Bishop of Alaska aged 29½ when he had to wait until his 30th birthday before being consecrated. Gordon was bishop for 26 years - Brighton Malasa, it is feared by priests and people in Upper Shire, could be in office for 35.
The Diocese of Lake Malawi, continues without its elected bishop as he was declared to have been of ‘unsound faith’ at the Court of Confirmation held in November 2005. This highly suspect judgement continues to be disputed as a ‘grave injustice’ by the priests and people of the diocese and fresh court cases challenging the bishops over their action are expected.
The Primates of the Anglican Communion have called for a day of ‘Prayer and Solidarity’ with the people of Zimbabwe ‘noting with horror the appalling difficulties of the people’ and stating ‘we do not recognise the status of Nolbert Kunonga and Elson Jakazi’ the excommunicated former bishops of Harare and Manicaland. This Day of Prayer is to be observed on Ash Wednesday, 25th February.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION have been asked to circulate the following from Veritas
PEACE WATCH, Zimbabwe, which is offered as a focus for churches everywhere observing the Day of Prayer. Readers will observe that those listed are real people languishing in terrible circumstances for standing up against oppression and dictatorship. The people of Central Africa have never lacked courage against injustice – we salute them.
[23rd February 2009]
Hospitalised Abductees Put in Leg Irons and Shackles
Jestina Mukoko, Fidelis Chiramba, Gandhi Mudzingwa, Zachariah Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu are still receiving treatment in the Avenues Clinic. They are all gaining strength but will need prolonged treatment. They are in wards being strictly guarded by prison warders and police - at least some of whom are armed. It is totally unnecessary and shocking that today they were put into leg-irons and shackled to their beds. This is very alarming for the patients as they are worried that it may signal an intention to try and return them to Chikurubi.
Summary of the Situation on Abductees
Group 1. [The 9 accused of recruiting persons to undergo training for insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism, the "recruiter group"] Of this group, 2 are in hospital - Jestina Mukoko, Zimbabwe, Peace Project [ZPP] Director, and Fidelis Chiramba. The other 7 - Broderick Takawira, ZPP, Concillia Chinanzvavana, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, Pieta Kaseke, Violet Mupfuranhehwe, Collen Mutemagau and Audrey Zimbudzana - are still in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
Group 2. [The 7 accused of sabotage, the "bomber group"]. Of this group, 3 are in hospital - Gandhi Mudzingwa, Zacharia Nkomo and Chinoto Zulu. The other 4 - Chris Dhlamini, Mapfumo Garutsa, Andrison Manyere and Regis Mujeyi, are still in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, despite an order issued by Justice Karwi and a more recent magistrates court order issued on Friday morning for their immediate transfer to the Avenues Clinic for medical treatment. The medical condition of Chris Dhlamini, in particular, was highlighted by Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights as needing hospitalisation as long ago as 6th February.
Court case are continuing for all the abductees who have not yet been admitted to hospital [all have been tortured and their lawyers and doctors insist they should all be where they can receive appropriate treatment which they cannot get in Chikurubi] and also for the State to drop charges and release them.
[See end for summary of court proceedings since last Peace Watch]
Some Abductees still Missing
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights [ZLHR] are dealing with 30 cases of reported abductees. So far only 23 abductees have been accounted for - 5 in hospital, 11 in Chikurubi, 3 released, 1 escaped to South Africa and 3 located but being held in police protective custody as State witnesses.
ZLHR lawyers are taking a habeas corpus case asking the State to produce the remaining 7 on their list, who have not yet been located. The 7 are Gwenzi Kahiya, Ephraim Mabeka, Lovemore Machokota, Graham Matehwa, Peter Munyanyi, Charles Muza and Edmore Vangirayi. [Note Mr Tsvangirai when he threatened to withdraw from negotiations last year unless all the abductees were produced, mentioned that there were more than 42, so it could be that there are others, names unknown, missing.]
Abductees being used as Political Pawns?
The circumstances of the abductees' "disappearances", their illegal detention and torture by State agents, the refusal of the State to comply with numerous court orders and the delay in getting a Supreme Court hearing on the Constitutional violations involved, point to deliberate stalling pending a political decision.
Coming up in Court
Tuesday 24th February: High Court - defence appeal against the provincial magistrate's decision refusing to release Fidelis Chiramba and others of the "recruiter group'.
Friday 27th February: Magistrates court - further remand proceedings for Concillia et al [the "recruiter group"].
Friday 6th March: Magistrates court - further remand hearing for Dhlamini et al [the "bomber group"]. The prosecutor has been ordered to name a trial date at this hearing.
Date not fixed for Supreme Court - Constitutional Test Cases In these cases lawyers for Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira and Audrey Zimbudzana will argue that the infringements of constitutional rights involved in their abduction and unlawful detention [including allegations of torture] mean that the State cannot prosecute them.
Abductees Court Proceedings since 16th February
[for full details see ZLHR reports available from firstname.lastname@example.org]
Wednesday 18th February: Members of the Dhlamini et al group were due back in court, and the much-delayed police report on their allegations of torture at the hands of State Security personnel was expected to be filed. However, once again the report was not available and the magistrate postponed the proceedings to 20th February, ordering the prosecutor to provide the defence with a copy of the report by 19th February.
Thursday 19th February: Justice Omerjee granted bail to four members of the Dhlamini et al group: Chinoto Zulu, Zachariah Nkomo, Mapfumo Garutsa and Regis Mujeyi. They have not, however, been released, because the State immediately notified the court of its intention to appeal, resulting in the suspension of the judge's order granting bail. [Justice Omerjee turned down applications for bail from the other members of the group - Chris Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa and Andrison Manyere.]
Friday 20th February: Four members of the Dhlamini group appeared in the magistrates court. The magistrate directed the prosecutor to set a trial date and ordered that the four be taken immediately to the Avenues Clinic for examination and treatment [an order not yet complied with].