|Bishop Gandiya worshipping in the open air in Harare (USPG)|
Last Sunday a Kunonga priest forced himself into the house of our priest (Rev’d Muzanenhamo) at Mubayira in Mhondoro while he was on trek taking services. He was informed and came back immediately and pushed Kunonga’s priest out of the house. The police came and instead of arresting the intruder they arrested our priest and charged him with assault. He spent the night in cells and we had to bail him out.
That same evening our newly ordained Deacon was evicted from the church house by Kunonga’s people. Police were called and they sided with those evicting our Deacon. In both cases there were no eviction orders as is required by the laws of the land.From George Conger, 24 June 2011
The Bishop of Masvingo writes from Zimbabwe that Dr Nolbert Kunonga has expanded his depredations beyond Harare and has tried to take control of a diocesan mission hospital in the southeast of the Central African nation.
In an email to the Central African bishops and supporters in the West, Bishop Godfrey Tawonezvi said the breakaway Bishop of Harare “continues to destabilize” the mission hospital in Daramombe “in an effort to forcibly take control of the institution.”
Dr Kunonga’s invasion of the Diocese of Masvingo comes amidst heightened uncertainty in the bitter dispute. On 2 June, Bishop Chad Gandiya of Harare also sent an email to supporters reporting that 16 Anglicans had been arrested by the police after protesting against the invasion of the Rev Julius Zimbudzana’s home by supporters of the breakaway bishop. Several priests were jailed overnight on trumped-up charges, Bishop Gandiya said.From the New York Times, 29 May 2001,
|Nolbert Kunonda sitting pretty|
Mr. Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, recently denounced black bishops in established churches as pawns of whites and the West, singling out for special opprobrium Catholic bishops who have “a nauseating habit of unnecessarily attacking his person,” the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.
But it is leaders of the Anglican Church, one of the country’s major denominations, who have lately faced the most sustained pressure. Nolbert Kunonga, an excommunicated Anglican bishop and staunch Mugabe ally, has escalated a drive to control thousands of Anglican churches, schools and properties across Zimbabwe and southern Africa.
“The throne is here,” declared Mr. Kunonga, who has held onto his bishopric here in the sprawling diocese of Harare through courts widely seen as partisan to Mr. Mugabe. He has also been backed by a police force answerable to the president, whom Mr. Kunonga describes as “an angel.” ....and on page 2
Mr. Kunonga’s aim, he and his adviser, the Rev. Admire Chisango, said, is for their breakaway Anglican church to control about 3,000 churches, schools, hospitals and other properties in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi — a treasure accumulated since Anglican missionaries first arrived in what is now Zimbabwe during the 19th century.
Mr. Kunonga, who earned a Ph.D. in religious studies from Northwestern University and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary outside Chicago, says that his success in controlling church properties is due to the persuasiveness of his legal arguments in court, not Mr. Mugabe’s influence.
“I’m superior intellectually and from a legal point of view,” he said. “I’m very superior to them.”
He vociferously supports Mr. Mugabe, and like many loyalists, he has been richly rewarded. The ZANU-PF government bestowed on him a prized commercial farm confiscated from white owners. Mr. Kunonga argued that his forebears had lived on that very spot for centuries and that he was just repossessing what was rightfully his.
One recent Sunday morning, the magnificent Anglican Cathedral in downtown Harare, once thronged by thousands of congregants, was mostly empty. Mr. Kunonga sat among a smattering of parishioners.
Not far away, a thousand Anglicans packed a plain rented church not under his authority. Beneath bare light bulbs dangling from unfinished rafters, they joyously danced and sang to the beat of drums and listened raptly to their charismatic young priest, Barnabas Munzwandi.
As the priest’s voice wafted into the yard outside where the overflow crowd sat on the grass, Victoria Ngwere, a 38-year-old housewife, explained that she had pushed her son, Raymond, miles in his wheelchair to get to services rather than attend a Kunonga church nearer her home.Amen. All here.
“Here I can feel free,” she said.