Two reports from Harare

Via Avondale parish e-newsletter

From Arik.com (France), 25 January
Anglican Church invites Mugabe to pray out ex Bishop's unholy mess
By Alice Chimora

Anglicans in Zimbabwe have resolved to hold a street prayer protest in central Harare to press the police to allow the church access to its buildings across the capital. The parishes have invited President Mugabe, a Catholic, to the prayer session.

The Anglicans have been embroiled in power struggle to control the church and the dispute has spilled to the courts but the fight continues to escalate. Former Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a staunch Zanu PF supporter is believed to be behind the chaos. And although Bishop Chad Nicholas Gandiya is the rightful head of the church, Nolbert Kunonga, who refuses to cede physical control of Anglican churches, is believed to have called in police to tear-gas worshippers out of church buildings on several occasions.

Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), a supreme authority of Anglican church in the region has seen its orders defied by Kunonga to surrender church property. "The church resolved to hold the open prayer to force the police to abide by the court ruling," the church announced on Sunday. "The President [Mugabe] has been invited and his office is aware.

Initially it was felt that we hold a protest march, but this was later shelved as the diocese opted for an open prayer session."

It is still not clear whether Mugabe would attend or whether police have sanctioned the open prayer session. The protest prayer comes after co-Home Affairs minister, Giles Mutseyekwa announced that he was planning to meet Harare police commanders to discuss the Anglican issue. A High Court judge ordered Gandiya and Kunonga and their followers to share use of church buildings for prayers. But Kunonga's group is accused of locking up church doors every Sunday to prevent their rivals from entering the buildings to hold prayers, while the police have been on hand to chase away Gandiya's followers every time they tried to insist on their right to use the churches.

Kunonga was excommunicated in 2008 after trying to withdraw the Harare diocese from the Anglican church. He claimed at the time he was protecting the diocese from 'rampant homosexuality' and ordination of gay priests. A staunch supporter of Mugabe who tried to use the pulpit to defend the Zimbabwean leader's controversial policies, Kunonga was excommunicated together with several priests and other church leaders who backed his
revolt against the CPCA.

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From The Standard, 24 January
Govt wades into Anglican dispute
Caiphus Chimhete

Minister of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa says he will this week meet senior police officers in Harare over the partisan nature of the police handling the dispute between the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (ACPCA) and a break-away faction led by an ex-communicated bishop. The break-away group led by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who was expelled from the church in 2007, has been locking out parishioners from the ACPCA led by Bishop Chad Gandiya despite a High Court ruling ordering the two to share church facilities at different times of the day.

Mutsekwa said he was concerned about the continued violation of the court ruling by the break-away group led by known Zanu PF apologist Kunonga. "We are aware and concerned about what is happening," said Mutsekwa. "I will be meeting with the Officer Commanding Harare Province to find out why this is still happening and also give him a directive to stop it."

Disgruntled members last week accused the police of openly supporting the Kunonga faction, whose members have, on several occasions, disregarded court rulings with shocking impunity. A High Court ruling by Judge President Rita Makarau in 2008 ordered the two church factions to share the premises.

The two groups are supposed to share the premises with the Kunonga-led group taking the morning slot, while the Central African province take the session starting after mid-morning. But supporters of Kunonga continue to lock out parishioners who are members of the Anglican Province of Central Africa led by Gandiya.

The Diocesan Registrar for the CPCA Michael Chingore said the minister must "put his foot down" to ensure that the police respect the High Court ruling as well as the rule of law. Chingore said supporters of Kunonga were working in cahoots with the police to prevent ACPCA parishioners from freely worshipping in their churches.

This is not the first time that Mutsekwa and his counterpart Kembo Mohadi have intervened in the Anglican dispute. In April last year, the two factions had a meeting with the two ministers of Home Affairs and it was agreed that they share the worshipping time slots. However, Kunonga's supporters have neither respected resolutions of the meeting nor court rulings. "Remember, I issued a statement after our meeting last year but it appears nothing changed much so we will be meeting again next week (this week)," admitted Mutsekwa.

A parishioner at St Elizabeth's Church in Belvedere, Harare, described the disruptions in the Anglican Church as "the work of the devil". She said this after they were locked outside the church and foul-smelling manure spread out in an area they were scheduled to worship a fortnight ago. Worshippers continue to be locked out in other parishes around Harare.

Kunonga was ex-communicated after he attempted to unilaterally withdraw the Diocese of Harare from the Central African Province. The province includes churches from Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe.


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