We have been asked to cover two items reproduced below. The first covers a meeting of the churchwardens of the Diocese of Harare and the second is a letter from Bishop Chad Gandiya.
Father Christmas brings good cheer in Zimbabwe
It has been reported in the wider media that 'President' Robert Mugabe is preparing his party Zanu-PF for new elections in the Spring of 2010. The prospect of another fixed election, this time to try and shake off Morgan Tsvangerai and the MDF opposition from the current power sharing arrangements is daunting.
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION: suggests that the new outbreak of Nolbert Kunonga inspired disruption and violence against Anglican Christians in the Diocese of Harare is linked to these plans.
Diocese of Manicaland: Some trouble has also been experienced at the instigation of Kunonga ally dissident bishop Elson Jakazi who is opposing the new CPCA bishop Julius Makoni. There has been reported trouble at St David's, Bonda to the north of Mutare. Thus far the disruption does not match that in Harare.
Diocese of Lake Malawi: The court injunction brought against the CPCA bishops preventing them from confirming or consecrating the Venerable Francis Kaulanda is to be heard in January. The injunction has been brought on behalf of an unprecedented number of lay objectors.
Pray for rain: The rainy season is off to a poor start in the region. Whilst world leaders squabble in affluent Copenhagen, and largely fail to offer a significant reduction in climate changing economic activity, subsistence farmers in the Central African Province anxiously watch the skies for increasingly unpredictable but life-giving rain.
Two reports from Zimbabwe
From: The Diocese of Harare CPCA - 5th December 2009
‘The Police at it again!
Having received disturbing news about the plans to disrupt our services on
Sunday the 6th November by Kunonga and his priests, we called an emergency
meeting of our churchwardens in the diocese. We felt that it was necessary
for the church officials to meet at our diocesan office for a briefing. They
all came in spite of the short notice. We briefed them about what we had
heard. Mr Chingore, our registrar explained the situation to them
emphasizing their legal rights. Some of the parishes had already experienced
disruptions to scheduled weddings and other programmes that they had in
place. Our people were very upset about the recurrence of police
interference in church affairs. In the face of the current court ruling on
the use of church buildings, the police would appear, in terms to be
taking their orders from Kunonga. We encouraged our people to be vigilant
and to keep the law authorities informed about any threats and potential
conflicts in their parishes. We encouraged them not to take the law into
their own hands. At the same time we told them to stand up for their rights
and to keep everyone informed’.
From: The Rt Rev’d Dr. Chad Gandiya
2nd Sunday in Advent - 6th December 2009
‘I started receiving calls from our clergy about heavy police presence on
church premises. The police claimed to have orders to stop all our services
from today onwards. Mr. Chingore, our diocesan registrar, was bombarded by
telephone calls from our clergy who wanted to know what to do and why they
were being barred from using their churches. The police were literally
enforcing an order to prevent our people from worshipping today. I was due
to conduct a confirmation service at St Michaels Church in Mbare high
density suburb at 11.30am. The parish priest there telephoned to say we
could not use the building because the police had told them not to do so. He
wondered if they should find another venue. I told him not to and that I was
going to try and see the police commissioner. The diocesan registrar
telephoned me in order to brief me about the turn of events in the parishes.
We agreed that we should go to the Harare Central Police Station and see the
police commissioner on duty and seek clarification to the ugly turn of
events. She was not in the office. Her subordinate called her and we were
able to speak with her on our cell phone. She claimed that the police were
in our churches to maintain law and order. She admitted that Kunonga had
told them that the diocesan properties belonged to his group and that we
were not supposed to use them. This was in spite of both the fact that the
police have Justice Makarawu's court ruling that we should share the
buildings until the case was brought to the high court and our appeal
against judge Hlatshwayo's ruling which had given our diocesan properties to
Kunonga. The registrar explained the situation to her and asked her to
clarify how and when the police started taking orders from Kunonga. She
insisted that there was no order from higher up in the police force or
government to stop us from using our buildings. The registrar requested her
to command her police officers stopping our people from using their
buildings to leave. The order took a while to filter down. I was able to
conduct my confirmation service much, much later. There was much ululating
when the police were leaving and the patient and determined Christians
started singing 'Onward Christian soldiers' as they danced their way into
the church. We confirmed 89 people.
The faith, commitment and courage of the people of this diocese is very
humbling and encouraging indeed. I can openly state that in spite of the
disturbances and hardships our people are facing, there is a revival taking
place in our church.
We are very concerned that according to the police officers the orders to
disrupt our services and stop us from using our churches are coming from the
Commissioner General himself. We are equally concerned that the police seem
to be taking orders from Kunonga. Our people are observing the law regarding
the sharing of buildings for worship but the police are treating them as
criminals for observing the law. Does this mean that our police have nothing
else to do and so they have to occupy themselves by preventing us from
worshipping God in our church buildings?
We are asking all our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion to
continue praying for us. We are asking our brothers and sisters in other
denominations and ZCC (The Zimbabwe Council of Churches) to remember us in
their prayers and support us in our struggle for justice. Today it is us,
who knows who might be next?’
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