Answers on election of the Bishop of Harare

From Anglican Information

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION last week released a long article by Mafirakurewa Kubvoruno of St Luke’s, Greendale, Harare, expressing fears and concerns about the conduct of the currently postponed elections for a new bishop in the much troubled Anglican Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe.

We reported that the election, due to have taken place on 26th April, was subsequently postponed. We now understand that this was cause by the absence in the United States of acting Dean Albert Chama and by a family bereavement.

Unfortunately the delay was unexplained and inevitably stoked further suspicion in a country where intrigue and political manipulation are the order of the day. We understand that the election will now take place, tomorrow or Sunday.

Now we have received a riposte to the original article by way explanation of the official position of the diocese. This is published in full below, we will continue to keep you updated.


From: Bob Stumbles
Chairman, Search Committee
Chancellor, Diocese of Harare (CPCA)
Deputy Chancellor, Church of the Province of Central Africa.


A parishioner from St Luke’s Church, Greendale, Harare, namely Mafirakurewa Kubvoruno, wrote and sent around the world on about the 23rd April 2009 a lengthy article entitled “FLAGRANT ECCLESIASTICAL VOTE RIGGING IN THE DIOCESE OF HARARE CPCA ON THE EVE OF THE ELECTION OF ITS NEXT BISHOP”.

He states that reports from those with inside knowledge already reveal that this election will not (be) the choice of the people of the Diocese of Harare, but that of the “so-called” Search Committee. It appears the writer of the article has relied upon and been heavily influenced by these “insiders” in the statements and allegations he makes and the deductions and conclusions he reaches.

Mr Kubvoruno is entitled to express his opinions and this is indeed welcome. What is unfortunate is that his views on several aspects are not based on the facts and therefore convey a picture vastly different from reality. Whether the information and “evidence” provided by the “insiders” was based on misunderstandings, speculation, suspicion or the desire to spread misinformation far and wide is open to conjecture. My comments are given on the assumption that the motive for Mr Kubvoruno to write is to show his genuine concern for the well-being of the Diocese and the transparency of the forthcoming election of the next Bishop of Harare, and he feels deeply that the information fed to him should be fed to the public worldwide. Indeed, he is commended for his excellent summary of Kunonga’s activities. It is one of the accurate components of his article. But much of the article is, with respect, incorrect.


It is primarily, as Chairman of the Search Committee, that I deal with the article although as Chancellor of the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) and Deputy Chancellor of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) I may touch on some subjects contained in Mr Kubvoruno’s article other than the Search Committee, where the facts are within my knowledge.


At the Diocesan Synod in 2008 considerable discussion took place about the disastrous consequences and harm caused to the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) as a result of what came to be known as the flawed election in 2001. The person elected by the Provincial Elective Assembly was Nolbert Kunonga who wreaked havoc on and persecuted clergy and laity in the Diocese while seeking ironclad power, personal aggrandizement, status and wealth. As nearly everyone knows, Kunonga was eventually defrocked as a Bishop and Priest and excommunicated from the Anglican Diocese of Harare as well as the Anglican Communion worldwide. He no longer has any connection with the Anglican Church in any capacity.

Synod in 2008 felt very strongly that steps had to be taken to make sure there would never again be such a blemished and defective election and to prevent “another Kunonga” from becoming Bishop of the Diocese. Members of Synod repeatedly emphasized that measure should be put in place immediately to ensure the election of a bishop whom the parishioners and clergy could trust and respect as a Good Shepherd and devout follower of Christ.


A proposal to set up a “Search Committee” was unanimously adopted by what the article describes as the “sane clergy and laity of the Diocese of Harare” at the 2008 Synod. The members of the Search Committee consist of the Diocesan Chancellor, Registrar and Deputy Registrar ex officio, and a priest or his alternate, layman or his alternate, and laywoman or her alternate. All six of these latter persons (including the alternates) were, in fact, elected by the 2008 Synod. The members are the choice of Synod, not the personal choice of Bishop Bakare as alleged by Mr Kubvoruno.

The Search Committee was established by Synod; not created by Bishop Bakare as alleged in the article. The existence of this Committee does not interfere nor conflict with nor take the place of the Canons as averred by the writer of the article. It does not take away any of the rights or duties (obligations) of the Diocese of Harare Elective Assembly representatives, nor those of the full Provincial Elective Assembly.

The 2008 Synod simply set out the preliminary procedure to be followed within the Diocese of Harare to give as much protection and transparency as possible in regard to the election of its bishop. Synod wanted an input from each parish so that the Elective Assembly would vote for someone who is a choice of the Diocesan people.

Any person or parish has the right to express his/her or its wishes, nominate and provide information on who their preference is as the next bishop. This information goes to the Vicar General of the Diocese in terms of the laws of the CPCA.

The Search Committee was formed by Synod to receive from the Vicar General (in the present case Bishop Bakare as Acting Bishop and Diocesan Vicar General) and study nominations to make sure criteria laid down by the 2008 Synod were met, namely that the proposed candidate has carried out his ministry to a high standard, has a sound theological foundation, a good reputation and character as well as academic qualifications, preferably at tertiary level. The same clergy and laity of Synod were adamant that these criteria be met so as to avoid another person like Kunonga emerging as a candidate.

An important factor in nominations is the need for the proposed candidate to indicate in writing, acceptance of his nomination. Without that written approval, his nomination is not considered. The Search Committee was advised, that there were no written acceptances in the case of some nominations, and some other candidates, whose names were proposed by parishes, withdrew their names at the outset of the nomination exercise.

The Search Committee, which convened four times under my Chairmanship, was provided with CVs and references in connection with 5 priests who met the criteria required. It deliberated over these, sent a list of (the same) questions to each of these candidates and finally made recommendations in order of preference in the considered opinion of the Committee. Contrary to the allegation in the article, Bishop Bakare has not, to this day, expressed to the Search Committee who his choice of candidate is.


Immediately after its final meeting, members of the Search Committee joined Bishop Sebastian as Vicar General and the members on the Diocesan Elective Assembly Panel. Each member of the panel was given:

1. A copy of the CV of each of the 5 priests;
2. Copies of references received concerning the candidates;
3. A copy of the list of nominations submitted from the parishes;
4. A list of the questions sent to the 5 candidates and the responses received;
5. A copy of the procedure laid down in the Canons including a background to the Search Committee’s functions.
6. A copy of the Synod Resolution on the Search Committee.

In addition a verbal report was given on the work done by the Search Committee as well as the Committee’s recommendations in order of priority concerning the 5 candidates was voiced.


Here it is important to note that in terms of Canon 6 there are 22 members of the Provincial Elective Assembly –

(a) the Archbishop or Dean of the CPCA;

(b) 3 Bishops, 3 Clergy, 3 Laity
chosen by the Archbishop or Dean from the panels of electors of Diocese in the Province (excluding the Diocese of Harare in the present instance)

(c) 6 Clergy, 6 Laity
from the panel of Electors in the Diocese of Harare. These persons were elected at the 2008 Diocesan Synod and represent the Diocese.
[Note: the layout of the original text of paragraphs (a) to (c) was a bit confusing. I have rearranged them and believe this was what was intended.]

Electors vote by secret ballot for the candidate of their choice. The candidate who receives at least two-thirds (2/3rds) of the vote of those Electors present shall be declared elected. If all Electors are present a two-thirds (2/3rds) vote would mean 15 votes. The Diocese of Harare Electors total 12.


In the document on procedure handed to each member of the Harare Diocesan Panel of the Elective Assembly it is written –

“The work of the Search Committee is over. The recommendations (from it) come to you (the Diocesan Elective Assembly members) via the Vicar General. The fate of the candidates and, indeed, the Diocese is in your hands. If you and the other 11 members of the Harare Diocesan Elective Assembly vote unanimously for a candidate, it will only be necessary to have 3 other members of the Elective Assembly outside the Harare Diocese vote for the same candidate and he will have the required two-thirds (2/3rds) majority to be elected.

You (the Diocesan Elective Assembly members) have information about the candidates, you have recommendations before you and you have the freedom to vote as you deem fit. The cross you place on your ballot paper will determine how strongly the message from the Cross at Calvary will spread throughout the Diocese through the new Bishop.”


A few other items of misinformation in the article need to be addressed to set the record straight.

1. The article states : “It seems there were spread some lies to the Search Committee that all the financial help that the Diocese of Harare has received from UK was mobilized by ….” (one of the candidates is named). With respect, this is totally untrue as no such information on financial help of any kind from any source or through any individual, was conveyed to the Search Committee.

2. The article states : “Disqualifying people … like what we hear was done by Mr Stumbles that Father Lameck Mutete was disqualified because he had not submitted enough documentation when we know he did send his CV…” is yet again a false accusation. Father Mutete’s CV and his answers to the questionnaire were handed out to each member of the Diocesan Elective Assembly present at the joint meeting with the Search Committee, along with the CVs and information relating to the other 4 candidates. Thus Father Mutete was one of the 5 names submitted by the Committee. The Search Committee did not, at any stage, disqualify his nomination. The Vicar General at the combined Search Committee/Diocesan Elective Assembly meeting, pointed out that the rules required candidates to submit references. Father Lameck had not at that stage done so. The Vicar General ruled he was withdrawing this candidate’s name. On behalf of the Search Committee I indicated we would have to accept that the Vicar General had to comply with any rules relating to this but went on to repeat what some others had said, namely, that there was no rule preventing anyone on the Elective Assembly from contacting Father Lameck to obtain references. Indeed, it is understood references have now been received. All of Father Lameck’s papers are still in the possession of each member of the Diocesan Elective Assembly as one of the 5 candidates.

3. The article states: “The Diocesan Synod of 2008 was highjacked to endorse Bishop Bakare’s wish to stay at the helm of the Diocese of Harare CPCA for another two years….” The term “highjacked” in this context is not understood. A motion proposed by the Reverend Christopher Tapera was tabled. It reads:
“This synod moves that in appreciation for the dedication and vision demonstrated by Bishop Sebastian Bakare that the Province of Central Africa extends his term of office for a further term of twenty-four months to enable him to establish and develop the structures as determined by the Dean who is the Acting Archbishop.”

This proposal was not on the agenda. Before it was tabled, Bishop Bakare and his wife were requested to leave the hall. Addresses in support of the proposal and praising the Bishop were made by a number of clergy and laity. When put to the vote, it was enthusiastically passed with no objections. The Bishop did not “highjack” Synod or its members!

4. The Search Committee has not deprived nor interfered with any of the power, authority and procedure laid down by the Canons. The allegation that the Search Committee has usurped the duty of the Elective Assembly to choose a bishop is a misrepresentation or fabrication of the factual position. Furthermore, for clarification, it is recorded that the Search Committee does have legal standing within the Diocese as a resolution of Synod – It does not amend the Acts nor the Canons.

5. The Elective Assembly, scheduled to be held on the 25th April, was changed to the 26th April, by the Dean of the CPCA who was, or still is, understood to be in the United States of America, and has been further changed to the 2nd May by him.


May every member of the Elective Assembly receive the will to vote and act in the best interests of the Diocese as directed by The Lord.

May the results of the forthcoming elections bring forth the Shepherd who has been so eagerly and trustingly prayed for.

May the new Bishop gird his loins with truth, put on the breastplate of Justice and righteousness, shoe his feet with the equipment to publish the Gospel of Peace, take the shield of faith to quench the flaming darts of the evil one, take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and may he pray at all times in the Spirit using every kind of prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6, 14-18)

And may everyone in the Diocese and the CPCA now turn away from all the malice, guile, insincerity and slander (1 Peter 2:1), that built up during the dark days of Nolbert Kunonga and instead grow in compassion, faith, trust, truth, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, justness and righteousness.


It is so easy to get things both wrong and out of proportion for the best of motives. It is particularly easy when there is an atmosphere of mistrust in both the church and the country and the perception of good grounds for suspicion.

And, as everything zips round the world so rapidly, it is equally easy for everything to be blown quickly out of proportion - not least because the blogging world is much like old media in many ways, not least that it loves a scandal, an argument, wrongdoing over dull common sense, caution and circumspection.



  1. I think that the 'official' diocesan authorities seem to have a communication problem with the people. It's no good having a formal process and not telling the people what it is and how it works. No wonder they are suspicious.

    - and what on earth is Bishop Albert Chama doing in America that is so important as to hold up the election? I hope he's not in dalliance with ACNA, Bishop Robert Duncan and Co?

  2. I am glad to see that Anglican Information publicises both sides of the story in full. It makes a change from the slanted views on some of the other blog sites.