‘A voice for the voiceless in the Anglican Central African Province’
Is Nolbert Kunonga beginning to run scared
in the Anglican Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe?
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION have been asked to publish a detailed analysis of the past and current situation in the Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe. Written by Deputy Chancellor Bob Stumbles it is copied below. The situation is serious with trouble threatened from Kunonga as the diocese prepares to consecrate and enthrone its new Bishop the Rev’d Canon Dr. Chad Gandiya. Nevertheless, read the article carefully as we think that there are covert signs that Kunonga is weakening? - we hope and pray that this is the case.
KUNONGA ADMITS HE WAS WRONG, BUT……..
Dr. Kunonga, excommunicated and estranged from the Anglican Communion worldwide, and those associated with him in breaking all ties with the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) appear to have accepted that it was not lawfully possible to withdraw the Anglican Diocese of Harare from the CPCA. In other words, Dr Kunonga recognizes the Diocese has, at all times, been part and parcel of the CPCA, despite his vociferous statements and actions over the past two years when he illegally laid claim to its property.
However, Dr Kunonga insists that, on this basis, he has all along been, and continues to be, the incumbent Anglican bishop with the Diocese under his command. He ignores the fact he and all his associates, clergy and laity, are no longer recognized as Anglicans and are held to be parties to a schism from the Anglican Church. He submits that there can only be one bishop in the diocese and he is it. In what he believes to be a generous compromise he is prepared to turn the clock back to the 4th August 2007, reconcile with and forgive all those who have been against him, and forget all that has happened since that date.
SYNOD, 4TH AUGUST 2007
What happened on, and since, the 4th August 2007? A Synod of the Diocese of Harare commenced on that date. The Agenda paper, notices of motion and reports are by law to be sent to members of Synod at least 18 days in advance of Synod. This did not happen. Members were only given these as they arrived on the opening day. They had been unaware of the contents and therefore were deprived of the fundamental right to discuss them with their constituents and prepare themselves to deal with the contents.
One of the Notices of Motion was that, “the Diocese of Harare does not recognise homosexuality as an acceptable Christian norm and hence does not recognise marriages from such relationships.” That was the entire wording. Nothing more. As this has been the stance of the CPCA in terms of a 1969 resolution and therefore of the Diocese for the last 40 years, there was no apparent sense or reason in passing such a resolution. Indeed, in The Herald of the 15th September 2007, Dr Kunonga himself made reference to the 1969 resolution of the CPCA with approval. But there seemed to be a hidden agenda in more than one sense. What was a non-issue was turned by certain Synod members, allegedly close to Dr Kunonga, who as bishop at the time was President of Synod, into an issue of excessive importance, to the considerable surprise of the majority of members. These persons determinedly pressed for wording which changed the intent and purport of the motion into something unrecognizable and forced this through a somewhat stunned Synod, many of the members not voting. The motion did not, and could not, have given Dr Kunonga any authority to sever Diocesan links with the CPCA as this would be unconstitutional and Dr Kunonga would be breaking his oath of canonical obedience (as he now accepts).
ACT OF SCHISM
Yet Dr Kunonga, without authority from Synod, did precisely this. In a letter of the 21st September 2007, he on his own behalf and on behalf of “the whole Church in the Diocese” categorically wrote that with immediate effect -
“We are withdrawing from the Church of the Province of Central Africa “.
He took this step on the pretext that homosexuality was a seriously insurmountable and divisive issue between the Diocese and the CPCA. As, in fact, it is not a disputed issue, some people hinted that it might have been used to fulfil a personal agenda to break away from the CPCA and to impress a particular audience and to enable Dr Kunonga to elevate himself to the position of Archbishop at the helm of his own organisation.
CPCA ACCEPTS KUNONGA’S PERSONAL WITHDRAWAL
In reply, the CPCA addressed a letter to Dr Kunonga accepting that he personally, and some of his supporters, by notice of his letter and other statements and behaviour had severed their relationship with, and withdrawn from, the CPCA from the 21st September 2007. Dr Kunonga was no longer bishop nor an Anglican and his licence as a clergyman in the Anglican Communion was automatically revoked. His act of schism was notified to the Anglican Communion worldwide. The Diocese of Harare continues to form part of the CPCA and Dr Kunonga is no longer authorised or permitted to have any authority or control over the Diocese, nor to represent it in any way, nor to use the funds and assets of the Diocese. He was ordered to hand over all the assets to the new CPCA representative.
All of this was agreed upon by all the bishops throughout the CPCA (Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe). A letter dated 20th December 2007 signed by the Bishops confirmed all the steps taken by the CPCA since the 21st September of that year.
DEFIANCE BY KUNONGA
Pursuing his plan, Dr Kunonga held an Extraordinary Synod on the 20th October 2007. It did not comply with the laws of the Diocese. This proved he had set off on his unilateral declaration of independence. It was announced there had been a severance from the CPCA. It was falsely stated that those who left a province took the church property with them. It was reported that Dr Kunonga and his supporters would now align themselves with other ecclesiastical provinces in Africa, such as Kenya.
In defiance of the order of the CPCA, Dr Kunonga and his accomplices subsequently refused to relinquish possession of the churches in the Diocese to Bishop Sebastian Bakare who had been appointed Vicar General and Acting Bishop of the Diocese on the 7th November 2007. (To avoid confusion in terminology the Diocese of Harare was now called the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) to show it was still part of the Province).
Dr Kunonga and the likes of Harry Rinashe, Morris Brown Gwedegwe, Caxton Mabhoyi, Alfred Munyani and Barnabus Machingauta, campaigned strenuously to prevent the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) from carrying out pastoral and administrative work. These persons appeared to embark upon or organise a systematic operation of threats, bullying, intimidation, even causing clergy and laity to be beaten and blocking their access to worship in the churches. They were known to call in the police on occasions to assist them.
The High Court, recognizing the existence of a schism, ordered that until the Diocesan property dispute had been settled, Bishop Sebastian Bakare’s Diocese of Harare (CPCA) and the Kunonga breakaway group should share access to the churches for church services. The property dispute has yet to be set down by the Court for a hearing.
Again, acting in defiance, Dr Kunonga ignored the court order. He and his accomplices increased the level of violence and continued to purge and persecute the huge number of clergy and laity who remained loyal to the CPCA. He also freely used funds for his own purposes which should have been under the control of the Diocese of Harare (CPCA).
KUNONGA’S PLAN FULFILLED
The plan of Dr Kunonga came sharply into focus. While relentlessly carrying on punitive activities contrary to the orders and rights of the CPCA and its people, he and his accomplices were preparing for the formation of a new Province to be controlled by him. Then it happened on the 15th March 2008. In an article in The Sunday Mail, March 16 – 22, 2008, news burst into the public domain that Dr Kunonga had formed his own church. He declared himself Archbishop of this organisation. He appointed as bishops subservient to him his closest accomplices – Harry Rinashe, Morris Brown Gwedegwe, Caxton Mabhoyi, Alfred Munyani and Brian Mhembere. A retired bishop from the Diocese of Manicaland, Elijah Masuko assisted Dr Kunonga in this exercise. Every one of these persons had been defrocked and were no longer Anglicans, let alone priests in the worldwide communion. But this did not concern them. Their mission to establish their very own institution had been accomplished. All that was now required was to forge links with other ecclesiastical provinces in Africa. And they would keep all the property belonging to the CPCA as their own and continue to persecute those who challenged their right to the assets of the Diocese.
THE AFTER EFFECTS
On the 12th May 2008, Dr Kunonga was declared excommunicated from the CPCA and the Anglican Communion worldwide.
The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (including Kenya) intimated they disapproved of the actions of Dr Kunonga. They had written on the 4th March 2009 to the President and Prime Minister of Zimbabwe to inform them that the Council does not recognise the status of Norbert Kunonga, nor that of Elson Jakazi (who, like Dr Kunonga has ignored orders from the CPCA and been defrocked as bishop and priest and is not an Anglican) as bishops within the Anglican Communion and the Council calls for the full restoration of Anglican property (in the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland) to the Church of the Province of Central Africa. Furthermore, the Council acknowledged that Bishop Sebastian Bakare and Bishop Peter Hatendi were the legitimate bishops of the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland respectively.
The present secretary of Dr Kunonga, Admire Chisanga, as recently as the 19th February 2009, addressed a letter to all parishes. In it he alleges a group of persons described as the Board of Trustees (of the Diocese) in existence prior to the schism (i.e. prior to the 4th August 2007) under the chairmanship of Dr Kunonga, had just passed a resolution concerning Diocesan property. It calls upon all parishes to agree in writing within 7 days that the parish is legally bound to recognise the authority of that “Board of Trustees” to control the property of the Diocese including the right of that “Board” to call on any person or body to deliver that property to the “Trustees”. The resolution goes on to warn each parish that if confirmation is not received within 7 days, the “Board” will take legal action to enforce its rights.
APPLICATION TO STOP ENTHRONEMENT OF DR GANDAYA
The Diocese of Harare (CPCA) arranged for an Elective Assembly to be held, followed by a Court of Confirmation, to elect a bishop and confirm the election. The Court of Confirmation was held on the 2nd June 2009. Dr Chad Gandiya emerged as the bishop elect to take over from Bishop Sebastian Bakare. The consecration and enthronement will be held on the 26th July 2009. Retired Archbishop, the Most Revd. Walter Paul Khotso Makhulu will officiate.
Dr Kunonga has filed an application on behalf of “The Diocesan Trustees for the Diocese of Harare” for an order preventing the Consecration/ordination from taking place. Dr Kunonga is the chairman of this group of “Trustees” who came into office after the 4th August 2007. They are: Dr Kunonga as chairman, Beaven Michael Gundu, Justin M Nyazika, P Majokwere, Onias Gatatwa, Alfred Tome and Winter Reggie Shamuyarira. The application, according to the affidavit, has been brought on the advice of James Mutizwa, Dr Kunonga’s registrar. It is alleged the CPCA is acting in bad faith by proceeding with the consecration of a new bishop, completely disregarding the fact that “I am still the Bishop of Harare” writes Dr Kunonga.
Yet he is archbishop of his own institution which has no connection whatsoever with the Diocese of Harare as constituted by the CPCA. He and the persons abovementioned are not members of the Board of Trustees of the Diocese of Harare (CPCA). Dr Kunonga has been excommunicated and is no longer an Anglican bishop and all of his followers and office bearers are no longer recognized as Anglicans nor members of the CPCA. They have no rights to the property and assets of the Diocese of Harare. These rights are vested in the CPCA. The applicants in this court application have no locus standi. Indeed, the consecration and ordination is purely an in-house matter with which no outsider can interfere. It is submitted the Courts have no jurisdiction to deal with the matter. Dr. Chad Gandiya is being consecrated as a bishop of the Anglican Church worldwide.
OVERTURE BY C.P.C.A.
In view of the acts, statements and behaviour of Dr Kunonga and his followers since the 4th August 2007, the CPCA cannot accept that it is reasonable to sweep everything under the carpet as suggested by him. Nor can they comprehend why he should wish to return to an organisation he has strenuously tainted with the brush of homosexuality (an allegation without foundation it must be said). Taking into consideration his change of position, namely, his acceptance that it was never canonically nor constitutionally possible to withdraw the Diocese of Harare from the Church of the Province of Central Africa, the Dean of the Province, subject to the approval of the Episcopal Synod, has submitted the following suggestions:-
Dr Kunonga should immediately –
1. Write to the CPCA accepting he has erred in trying to withdraw the Diocese
from the CPCA and acknowledging the Diocesan property and assets are
ultimately owned by the CPCA; and
2. unconditionally restore and account for all the Church’s assets of whatever
nature in the Diocese and the monies used since the 21st September 2007; and
3. withdraw all court actions of whatever nature instigated by him or any associate
against the CPCA or the Diocese of Harare (CPCA) or any of its parishes or
supporters of the CPCA.
Once 1,2 and 3 have been fulfilled satisfactorily and completely, the Episcopal Synod will convene to determine what steps should be taken by it concerning Dr Kunonga and his associates including the opportunity to appear and make their case before such Synod or any other tribunal approved by the Episcopal Synod.
R. A. STUMBLES
Deputy Chancellor, C.P.C.A
23rd July 2009