Central African bishops anger laity in Lake Malawi Diocese as injunction brought to stop consecration

It seems that just about anything can happen in Malawi, but the bishops haven't gone this far - yet.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that the Provincial Bishops of the Central African Province have once again managed to aggravate the laity and mismanage a Court of Confirmation for the Diocese of Lake Malawi and Northern Malawi.

Further to our last communication revealing suspect motivation on the part of some of the bishops an increasingly hostile laity are now accusing them of manipulating elections for bishops in Malawi. In turn the bishops have now released a statement published by the Anglican Communion News service dated 24th September:
www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2009/9/24/ACNS4657 in which they explain their position insisting that their actions in calling a Court of Confirmation following the election of the Venerable Francis Kaulanda for Lake Malawi and Fr Leslie Mtekateka for Northern Malawi have been properly conducted. In this they acknowledge that an injunction brought in the High Court of Malawi could stop the consecrations.

respectfully observes that the Provincial Bishops, under the oversight of acting Dean Albert Chama, are becoming dangerously isolated from the realities of strong lay sentiment in the dioceses of Malawi. A command style of episcopal leadership seems irrelevant and anachronistic in a world where even in Central Africa easy access to modern communications is revolutionising the balance of power in a direction more familiar to other parts of the Anglican Communion. As lessons learned from the past tumultuous four years show, the episcopal bench must become more accountable and in touch with the people. Current magisterial policy has produced a near farcical and embarrassing situation for the Anglican Church in an area where it should be strong and confident to proclaim the Gospel.

In this respect
reports that in today’s edition of the influential English language Malawi Nation Newspaper, page 3 headlines ‘Anglican Bishops defy Court Order’. The article goes on ‘Anglican bishops of the Central African Province on Wednesday defied a High Court injunction obtained by church members earlier and went ahead to confirm Francis Kaulanda as the new bishop of the Malawi Diocese.’ Also in the comment section ‘Anglicans sending wrong signals’ and ‘bishops threaten criminal proceedings against those who sought the injunction.’

comments: As the House of Laity do not as yet have the benefit of the Anglican Communion News Service to put their point we are glad to publish for them – readers will understand that English is not the first language of the objectors.

Communication from Mr Charles Wemba a representative of the Laity in the Diocese of Lake Malawi.
Due to the urgency of the matter I have to send this email to avoid further confusion amongst faithful Christians. We the objectors stopped the Court of Confirmation to hear our objection by serving an injunction. We did so because it was a CLOSED court (the Court of Confirmation). Objectors were NOT invited. Since we sent our objections to the Dean, Registrar and others; the next communication that took place was on 20th Sep, 2009 at St Thomas Church only (in Lilongwe the capital city), announcing that the Confirmation was scheduled on 22nd Sep 2009 only two days later (leaving insufficient time for objectors to travel from rural villages). The Confirmation date was set in such a way that all Objectors that are employed should never have an opportunity to come and object.

Should we expect ordinary Christians to travel from their respective villages to a very far away distance in Lilongwe ? We understand that Bishop William Mchombo has been encouraging the Vicar General Nkoko never to get worried since everything was set for the good of Francis Kaulanda.

Bishop James Tengatenga (of South Malawi) and the acting Dean Albert Chama took us to task. They said to me, “to hell with the injunction” and that “we are ready to be taken to court”.

Well, it is a shame for Church leaders to say such things. After all, we, the objectors are trying to bring them back to God’s track. The bishops think that their faiths and knowledge surpasses all people in Church. I even told the bishops that they were NOT behaving in a Christian way. By the look of things, the bishops have made up their minds not to understand. They are there to fight against the House of Laity at all costs. But remember, even if 149 objectors withdrew their names, that will not make Kaulanda posses academic qualifications
are complaints that his qualifications are invalid) or make the incomplete building structures (in the diocese) go to a finish level. We know why they have changed their minds. Bribery!! If the Dean thinks there is no angel to fill the vacancy, why was Nicholas (The Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson of London, U.K., the previous bishop-elect) rejected? The current elections were done in such a way that objectors should never have any chances to reject the candidate of the bishops choice.

The House of Bishops and Clergy must know that it is better to have no bishop not only for the next 20 years than to have a rubber stamp bishop. These spiritual tasks must have meanings not for the sake of filling the gaps. If someone is after the position of the Archbishop by filling the vacancies here in Malawi
(a reference to acting Dean Chama)
in a corrupt way, then be ready for the toughest struggle.

Looking at the trend of this issue, it is going tribal. If this tribalism is not observed and addressed, it will not be easy to stop it. There is no way we can have one bishop-elect to come from all the districts of Malawi . We need someone who satisfies requirements in the Canons (not a cheater) and who will unit all Anglicans. We need the Archbishops/Bishops to be helping us in body and soul and not to corrupt people.

observes that tribalism whilst not as strong in Malawi as in some other parts of Africa is increasingly dividing Malawian Christians, which is one reason why the people’s choice is often for a neutral bishop from outside the country.

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Former Archbishop Bernard Malango implicated in bribery scandal - Diocese of Lake Malawi consecration stopped

A copy of the incriminating letter from former Archbishop Bernard Malango - click on image to enlarge

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that a civil court injunction brought by the twice-suspended Rev’d Dennis Kayamba of Nkhota-kota, Malawi has stopped the planned consecration of the Venerable Francis Kaulanda, Archdeacon of Lilongwe as the next Bishop of Lake Malawi.

Previous editions of
have reported that Francis Kaulanda had recently been elected as Bishop of Lake Malawi. The Provincial bishops had finally forced a new election following the long-standing impasse after the election of the Rev’d Dr. Nicholas Henderson of London, U.K.. Dr Henderson’s election was not confirmed because of an unsubstantiated and discredited charge of ‘unsound faith’. Dennis Kayamba, a member of an organisation called ‘Forward in Faith’, now with links to schismatic breakaway groups in the United States, at that time was one of five objectors to Henderson.

Subsequently, we have reported 150 lay people objecting to the election of Francis Kaulanda – a copy of the affidavit containing the names is available on our website.

A tangled web of intrigue is now unravelling to reveal, from our sources, that during the election of Francis Kaulanda the name of Dr Henderson had been re-presented but, at the insistence of acting Dean of the Province Bishop Albert Chama, was disallowed together with the names of two other local candidates including Joseph Kaswanyando a former chaplain to the late Bishop Peter Nyanja. Kaulanda was then elected narrowly defeating the remaining candidate one Henry M’baya a Malawian working in South Africa whose name had been added at the last moment by the bishops.

In this context a leaked copy of a letter written by former Archbishop Bernard Malango on 15th February 2006 (carried by us as a news story on 14th February 2008) has now reappeared on the influential Malawian blogsite
Malawi Digest’
. On this site, run by Malawian journalists, readers can find the letter in an article dated 16th September 2009 headed ‘UDF squabbles, 3 dead’. The report speaks of ‘UDF* clandestine activities in the Anglican Church’. See: http://malawidigest.blogspot.com . com/ A copy of the letter is now also available on our website – navigate to ‘Gallery’.

readers will no doubt be confused by these political machinations but Malango in his letter addressed to Dennis Kayamba advises that ‘our prerequisite is to make Father Henry M’baya boss of the diocese. This will not give us a headache as he is already a UDF plant. On this juncture advise Father Frank (Dzangtenge) of Mtunthama to convince members of the church who are pro-UDF that the cheque I mentioned has just arrived’.

The ‘
Malawi’ Digest
site goes on to say that ‘the UDF is favouring Fr Henry M’baya to take over the leadership of the diocese as bishop whilst the majority of the church’s faithful are supporting the installation of British national, Rev Fr Nicholas Henderson’.

observes that in the Malawian context these developments are politically explosive. They leave acting Dean Albert Chama, who is often described as a protégé of former Archbishop Malango, in a dangerously exposed position with the implication that both the former election of Dr Henderson and the latest election of Francis Kaulanda have been resisted by him and former Archbishop Malango with bribery for political reasons in favour of the unpopular UDF ‘plant’ Henry M’baya. These are serious and damaging revelations about how episcopal elections in the Central African Province are apparently being manipulated for subversive political purposes.

calls upon acting Dean Chama to make a proper statement of clarification explaining how the election of a bishop for Lake Malawi has become associated with political opportunism and implied bribery. The people of the much-troubled Province of Central Africa deserve the truth about what could be a major scandal.

The United Democratic Front represents the Malawian political opposition and the former President Bakili Muluzi who has been in serious conflict with the current President.

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Well bishop - if you won't listen to me!

Anglican-Information reports that: following the unprecedently large number of
objectors (carried by us in our last issue and available on our website) against
theVenerable Francis Kaulanda, Archdeacon of Lilongwe as the next Bishop of the
Diocese of Lake Malawi, we have now received some objections to the objectors!

In a letter to the acting Dean Albert Chama of the Central African Province sent from All Saints Parish, Nkhota-kota, McDonald Kapatuka (Churchwarden) Joyce Umanda (Parish Treasurer) and Richard Azadi (Parish Secretary) have written to point out that some of the objectors, including at least three of those named are not in fact opposed to Kaulanda’s appointment. We have also received a letter from Stephen Mmela, churchwarden of Bua Parish distancing himself from the objectors. We have posted these communications on our website - navigate to ‘The inside view- letters, articles and correspondence’.

In addition we have received further objections to the election of the Rev’d Fr Leslie Mtekateka, Rector of St Timothy’s, Chitipa, as Bishop of Northern Malawi.

comments: despite the serious objections and counter objections lodged against them it is certain that the Central African bishops will confirm both episcopal candidates for Northern and Lake Malawi later this month. As one priest commentated ‘even if they receive a 1000 objections they will go ahead regardless with their own preferred men. What we need is a serious revision of the Constitute and Canons to take away some of the bishops’ excessive powers – they have too much for the good of the Province’.*

The consecrations of Kaulanda and Mtekateka will take place on Sunday 4th October in Upper Shire Diocese (by design well away from any possible objectors in the dioceses to which they have been appointed) at the annual UMCA (Universities Mission to Central Africa) celebrations.

This executive action epitomises a problem that is characteristic of the Central African Province and its bishops. The apparent adoption of near monarchical status means that the Central African bishops are frequently perceived to have allowed themselves to become an elite, privileged and unaccountable caste apart. The antics of the likes of Bishops Nolbert Kunonga and Elson Jakezi in Zimbabwe reinforce such views. In Malawi three of the four bishoprics are now readily seen as being or about to be occupied by what are effectively imposed bishops largely against the will of the people.

was set up to be a ‘voice for the voiceless’ and we believe that we have accurately portrayed the people’s growing disillusion with current episcopal oversight. The ease of modern communications and a strengthening laity mean that unless there are changes soon, even more difficulty lies ahead for what is already a troubled Province.

This could be rectified by an imaginative choice by the bishops for the next Archbishop of the Province who will function in the proper Anglican mode of ‘Bishop in Synod’ rather than by means of an
ex cathedra

In a subsequent issue we will look at the potential candidates in some detail. In the meantime we will continue to report the people’s news and what is often otherwise missed from this corner of the Anglican Communion.


* It is easy to see why the current Provincial Constitution and Canons are lacking and out of date – the last edition was published in 1996 but dates from the original 1955 preamble and includes various piecemeal additions formulated in 1969,1972 and 1983. Overall it is tilted strongly in favour of the bishops.

The Universities Mission to Central Africa (1857-1965) was inspired by lectures given by the explorer David Livingstone. The society had two main objectives:
a. To establish a mission presence in Central Africa.
b. To oppose the slave trade.

The UMCA was particularly active in Zanzibar and Nyasland (later Malawi).

UMCA was the first Mission Society to devolve sole authority to bishops in the field – herein lie many of today’s episcopal problems as the bishops were ceded enormous executive power which has been inherited and used and misused ever since.

In 1965 UMCA merged with SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) another venerable Mission Society to become today’s
USPG (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel). The recently elected Bishop of Harare Dr Chad Gandiya worked until his election as Field Officer for USPG and the links with Central Africa are still strong.

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Kunonga has gone: now go

The Rt Revd Albert Chama Dean of the Church of theProvince of Central Africa (photo: George Congar)

Please note: this letter includes the arguments of Deputy Chancellor Bob Stumbles (below) with further material.

The Church of the Province of Central Africa has asked that the following letter from the Dean of the Province be circulated by ACNS:

It is with increasing concern that we, the Bishops of the Anglican body of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) note the ongoing involvement of the Law Courts in Zimbabwe in respect of numerous cases instituted about the status of Nolbert Kunonga vis-à-vis the CPCA and his rights to our property.

We are not alone in expressing concern. The Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) voiced their astonishment at a meeting held in Alexandria, Egypt, in February 2009 and recorded their earlier views, stating:

"As representatives of the Anglican Communion, we re-iterate that we do not recognise the status of Bishop Norbert (sic) Kunonga and Bishop Elson Jakazi as bishops within the Anglican Communion, and call for the full restoration of Anglican property within Zimbabwe to the Church of the Province of Central Africa".

This statement reflects the true and lawful position. It also echoes the sentiments of the Anglican Communion worldwide, members of whom are frankly shocked by the conclusions and decisions given in some of the judgments of the courts in favour of Kunonga, a man who has abandoned the Anglican faith and the CPCA. It would seem a few of the learned judges (and magistrates) are either under some misconception or unwittingly ignore the true situation.

We have therefore deemed it appropriate to draw attention respectfully to the following in order to put beyond doubt the factual, legal and ecclesiastical position:-

1) The CPCA is a multinational body covering Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, whose laws are transnationally binding upon its members.

2) Its laws, like those of any other similar organisation, are not available to be used by any person who is not a member of the body of the CPCA.

3) Likewise, its property and assets, like any other similar organisation, belong to it and cannot be usurped, removed or unlawfully used by anyone outside its membership.

4) The Diocese of Harare (the Diocese), its property and assets, form an integral, permanent part of the body of CPCA, as do all the other dioceses and their assets in the Province.

5) The CPCA laws call on bishops, before taking office, to swear that they will be bound by, and govern their diocese in conformity with the laws and canons, Acts and other regulations of the Province and their diocese.

6) On the 21st September 2007, Nolbert Kunonga willfully broke his canonical oath and unilaterally, formally and intentionally chose to break away and cut all ties with the CPCA. He had irrevocably exited from and would have nothing more to do with us.

7) His departure and cessation of membership was noted and accepted by the CPCA.

8) The result of his action was that he not only forfeited his membership and had no status nor rights within the CPCA but also ceased automatically to be a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. More than that, he was no longer an Anglican Bishop and therefore there was a vacancy in the See of the Diocese. Anglican officials and Anglicans throughout the world acknowledged that this is the situation.

9) We wrote to Nolbert Kunonga to vacate our property and assets in the Diocese and make them available to us. He ignored our request. He still uses the property, assets and money of the Diocese for his own purposes. In our respectful submission, Nolbert Kunonga is acting as a trespasser on our property and his undoubtedly unlawful use of our funds and assets is tantamount to theft. And his claim to be bishop of the Diocese is a deliberate misrepresentation amounting to falsehood as is his claim to be an Anglican.

10)Instead of withdrawing peacefully and without demur, Nolbert Kunonga and a few non-Anglican collaborators commenced a programme of sustained threats, intimidation and assaults on members of the CPCA, depriving them of access to worship in the parish churches or even on the premises of the Diocese.

11) By breaking away from the CPCA, Nolbert Kunonga committed the act of schism. To underscore this, Nolbert Kunonga, on the 15th March 2008, formed his own church. He proclaimed himself Archbishop of his organisation and appointed 4 or 5 non-Anglican colleagues as bishops. This defiant move of Nolbert Kunonga is a classic case of schism; entering into membership of a (presumably) religious body not in communion with the CPCA. Thus he has overtly given his allegiance to an organisation separate from and not recognized by the Anglican Communion. To put the position of Nolbert Kunonga firmly into an unmistakable category after he declared the formation of his own church, we let it be known on the 12th May 2008 that his status is that of a person excommunicated from the CPCA and the Anglican Communion throughout the world.

12) We find it incredible that the establishment of his own church by Nolbert Kunonga does not seem, with respect, to resonate in the minds of some of the learned judges in Zimbabwe hearing the cases before them on Nolbert Kunonga. Surely, the existence of his own organisation must put beyond all possible doubt the fact the Nolbert Kunonga as a result of his own actions and behaviour cannot lay claim to any right to be a bishop in, and have control over, property of the CPCA in the Diocese. He has now made himself Archbishop of an organisation in opposition to and not recognized by the CPCA. He would have had a conflict of interests if he had not already given up membership of the CPCA.

From a theological point of view a judgment cannot interfere with faith which is controlled by an individual’s conscience. Faith cannot be tested overtly nor imposed upon a person by a court order. This is why in the Anglican Church laws have been specially promulgated to facilitate the propagation by priests and others of the Christian faith. Those persons who choose to be Anglicans willingly, subject themselves to the faith, worship, teachings, format and rules, fellowship, mutual support, the proclamation of the Gospel and the care of God’s people in love and faith as prescribed in our Canons, Acts and other laws. These are spiritual and ecclesiastical aspects outside the scope of the Common Law Courts.

Nolbert Kunonga withdrew his membership from this organisation voluntarily. But this does not give him, nor the courts, the right to insist thatCPCA members must follow him and change their faith and allegiance to the CPCA. No one has the right to restrict, prevent or prohibit Anglicans from worshipping in their Churches of the Diocese as they have done peacefully and respectfully for many years.

We now earnestly seek your kind consideration of the above facts and comments and are emboldened, by the worldwide support we have received, to believe the only conclusion you can reach is that –

1) Nolbert Kunonga is not a member of the CPCA; is not an Anglican bishop in the Diocese; and has no right to occupy or use the Anglican assets in the Diocese; and

2) Nolbert Kunonga has elected to become Archbishop of an organisation he has formed and which is not recognised by the Anglican Communion Worldwide; and he has been excommunicated from the CPCA and the Anglican Communion internationally; and

3) The CPCA is an organisation not confined to Zimbabwe but is transnational and recognized internationally; and In view of all of the above, the civil courts have no jurisdiction to deal with issues pertaining to the status of Nolbert Kunonga vis-à-vis the CPCA and the Anglican communion and, in any event, Nolbert Kunonga has no locus standi to be a party to pleadings in any civil court because, by his own admission, he has abandoned and severed his links with the CPCA and formed his own church which is a separate entity in no way connected to the CPCA.

To bring this epistle up to date, we have pleasure in announcing that, to international acclamation and in accordance with the laws of the CPCA and other ecclesiastical laws, Dr Chad Nicholas Gandiya, having been duly elected in June 2009, was consecrated and ordained within our Province as an Anglican Bishop recognized worldwide on the 26th July 2009. The ceremony was witnessed by numerous bishops and well over 10,000 others who were in attendance. He was enthroned on that same day in the See of the Diocese of Harare.

After Nolbert Kunonga had left the CPCA and the Diocese and until this momentous enthronement of Bishop Gandiya occurred, Bishop Dr. Sebastian Bakare had acted as caretaker Vicar General/Bishop of the Diocese of Harare from November 2007, a role he filled with distinction and success. Bishop Bakare had been called upon to administer pastorally and otherwise after Nolbert Kunonga left the Diocese effectively on the 4th August 2007.

We, the Bishops of the CPCA, hereby draw to your attention yet another application just launched by Nolbert Kunonga. Although he has nothing to do with, and disassociated himself from the CPCA and formed his own church/organisation, in his latest application he asks the honourable High Court in Zimbabwe to set aside the consecration and enthronement of Bishop Chad Nicholas Gandiya as the Bishop of the Diocese of Harare and for the court to pronounce that he, Nolbert Kunonga, is still bishop of that diocese!

We re-iterate our firm belief that Nolbert Kunonga has no locus standi to appear before, and be recognized by the courts. It is our strong contention that the courts in Zimbabwe have no jurisdiction to interfere with the procedure and decisions legitimately made by the transnational CPCA. We trust that the application will be dismissed on these grounds.

Such a decision will remove the strong perception held by us and most interested persons, locally and internationally, namely that the honourable Courts in Zimbabwe appear to be minded for reasons best known to themselves, to ignore the lack of status of Nolbert Kunonga and the question of jurisdiction and to presume to rule upon the internal, domestic, spiritual, theological, administrative and Church affairs of the CPCA.

We sincerely call upon the courts to heed our concerns so that the chapter on the behaviour and demands and absence of status of Nolbert Kunonga in the Anglican Church can finally be closed.

Dated on this, the 1st day of August in the Year of Our Lord 2009

The Rt Revd Albert Chama Dean of the Church of theProvince of Central Africa