Police continue to ignore court rulings

Avondale Shops (sorry, not easy to find more pertinent graphics)

ANGLICANS in the Diocese of Harare in the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) have become disillusioned with the Police Commissioner-General's unwritten decree that the police will not enforce court rulings in favour of the Anglican Church under Acting Bishop Sebastian Bakare.

According to police officials, Chihuri allegedly verbally instructed some senior police officers in Harare to defy any court rulings that favoured the Anglican (CPCA). The CPCA is the controlling body of the Anglican Church in Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

This hindrance to the right to worship of Anglicans under the leadership of Bishop Bakare has revived speculation within the Anglican Communion that the government of President Mugabe does not respect the freedom of worship as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

The dispute in the Anglican Church in Harare started on 21 September 2007 after then Bishop of the Diocese of Harare Nolbert Kunonga wrote a letter to the then Arcbishop of the CPCA Dr Bernard Malango, advising him of his decision to withdraw from the CPCA citing alleged differences over homosexuality.

Following Kunonga's withdrawal and resignation as Bishop of Harare, the CPCA proceeded to appoint Bakare as Acting Bishop until a new bishop is elected to head the Anglican Diocese of Harare, expected sometime in September this year.

Since then, the Kunonga rebel group and the CPCA have engaged in intense legal battles over ownership of church buildings and other properties, the use of church buildings for Sunday services and the protection of parishioners against police interference in the places of worship.

Judge President, Justice Rita Makarau issued an interim order in Case Number HC 345/08 that provided for the sharing of church premises for Sunday services starting with the Kunonga group's service followed 90 minutes later by the CPCA's services. Despite several appeals by Kunonga against this order other High Court judges, Justice Karwi (Holy Communion 402/08), Justice Hungwe (HC3208/07 and Justice Guvava (HC 2259/08 upheld the Makarau judgment.

"All these orders are pointing to the effect that the Anglican Diocese of Harare (CPCA) has a legal right to access and use of Anglican properties and premises," Bishop Bakare said. "These orders do not give any right to the Police to interfere in the civil disputes in the Church affairs before the Court. "Regrettably all these court orders are being disregarded by some individuals who give 'orders from above'. The issue regarding properties is still pending, awaiting the outcome of the Courts (case Number HC 6544/07)."

This contemptuous behavior by identified police officers has allowed Kunonga's rebel group to enlist the help of known Zanu PF officials under the leadership of former Harare Provincial Chairman Amos Midzi to intimidate Anglicans and drive them out of their church premises.

Most Anglicans under Bishop Bakare now worship in open spaces in the glare of the sun and the rains. Attempts by several individual Anglican parishes in the CPCA to pursue this matter with the police have yielded blanks. There is no written documentation to support the actions of the police except a reference to Chihuri's standing order.

Every Sunday the police bar the CPCA from conducting their services at their places of worship. The police usually come in the company of the Kunonga rebels who give them instructions as to who to arrest and detain. Those subsequently arrested are illegally detained and subsequently released without being charged.

The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Harare, Dr Sebastian Bakare has constantly demanded the non-interference of the police in religious matters as enshrined in the country's Constitution and also in regional, continental and United Nations conventions and statutes.

Bishop Bakare says: "We are one. Our mission is to preach the gospel of Christ which is about peace, justice and love. We continue to urge those who use abrasive language against us to come and join us in preaching the message of Christ."

The situation is unbearable at St Paul's in Highfield where Dorcas Manyonda, the Zanu PF losing candidate for Highfield West in the 29 March Harmonised Elections has teamed up with the rebel's priest Abraham Gwatidzo and a Major Simeon Makowe in terrorizing parishioners and disrupting church services.

At St Michael's Mbare, the rebels have the backing off. The Anglican cathedral has remained shut to the public after the disgraced Kunonga closed it at the height of the conflict in February 2008. For the record the Cathedral has over the years served Anglicans and other members of the public who wish to have their prayers. It has also acted as a sanctuary to destitute members of society.

However the police continue to shield Kunonga and his hooligans from prosecution for contempt of the Makarau ruling.


1 comment:

  1. This report comes as no great surprise. I can't imagine that Mugabe and Kunonga will take much notice of the
    Anglican Primates statement, as reported by you, either.