From The Standard
Saturday, 21 March 2009
BY Edgar Gweshe
THE main Anglican Church congregation loyal to Harare Diocese Province of Central Africa Bishop Sebastian Bakare, which has been embroiled in a long drawn battle for control of the church with a rival group led by renegade Bishop Nolbert Kunonga wants the police commissioner charged with contempt of court.
The group, now commonly referred to as the Bakare faction, says Chihuri is biased against them, adding they have evidence that the commissioner-general, who is also a sworn Zanu PF supporter, connived with Kunonga to destabilise their church.
Kunonga, who broke from the church’s hierarchy in 2007, is trying to wrest control of the diocese’s extensive assets from the faction led by Bishop Sebastian Bakare.
The dispute turned ugly last Sunday when riot police tried to disrupt a service led by Bakare at a parish in Mabvuku arguing Kunonga had won a Supreme Court challenge against a January 2008 ruling by the High Court allowing the two factions to share assets.
Bakare’s group now wants Chihuri charged with contempt of court for allegedly instructing the police to assist the bishop who uses his strong links to Zanu PF to intimidate opponents in his bid to drive Anglicans out of their churches.
The Diocesan Registrar for the Church of the Province of Central Africa, Michael Chingore, said they had filed a contempt of court application against Chihuri in the face of the continued disruption of church services by the police.
“We have already launched a contempt of court appeal against the police at the High Court,” he said. “The police have only been trying to stop our services instead of maintaining order.
“We are simply saying the police or commissioner-general should not be anywhere near our services.
He said on numerous occasions the police had interfered with their services as they tried to force them to make way for Kunonga’s faction in violation of the High Court ruling.
“It appears the police are now causing more problems than Kunonga’s faction and our case is not against Kunonga but the police,” Chingore said.
Bakare accused Chihuri of being biased against his group and said they had evidence that the commissioner-general connived with Kunonga to destabilise the church.
“Chihuri is sending people to provoke Anglicans and on the other hand he is saying he does not know anything about it,” said Bakare.
Chihuri has sought to distance himself from the Anglican church saga.
Three weeks ago the church secured an affidavit from Chihuri in which he denied any knowledge of instructions issued to force Anglicans out of their churches.
But Bakare said the disruption of church services proved that Chihuri was not being truthful.“The question here is that if Chihuri claims he does not know anything then who has been sending the police?
“For police officers to be so partisan raises a lot of questions.”
Last weekend police arrested three parishioners including the church warden Henry Musikavanhu at St Stephens church after they resisted attempts to force them out of a Sunday service to make way for the Kunonga faction.
They were released on Monday without any charges being laid against them.
“The police have been making numerous arrests but surprisingly enough no charges have been made and that is why we would like to believe they are deriving their orders from their seniors,” said Chingore.
But Bishop Alfred Munyanyi, speaking on behalf of Kunonga’s faction, claimed Bakare’s group was out to cause trouble.
“The police are coming because this other faction is failing to observe the status-quo. “They are simply doing their work,” he said.
“These people are just making noise but the constitution is very clear that Kunonga remains the head of the Anglican Church.
“Bishops are not fired but they are removed following clearly outlined procedures.”
Kunonga’s faction claims to have won a Supreme Court challenge that allowed them the sole use of the church’s premises, an assertion dismissed by Bakare’s group.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena defended the police saying they were only enforcing court orders.
“Our position is that we are following the law in resolving the dispute and they (Bakare and Kunonga factions) should follow the court orders,” he said.
The CPCA has also approached the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee which was set up to ensure the implementation of the Global Political Agreement.