The recent Supreme Court ruling in chambers by Zimbabwe’s Chief
Justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku, allowing one faction of the Anglican
church, led by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, to temporarily take full custody
of all church property within the Harare Diocese has caused more
problems than it attempted to resolve.
Following the passing of the Supreme Court ruling early in August,
members of Kunonga’s faction have gone on wanton acts of violence and
intimidation, beating up and evicting members of the other faction led
by Bishop Chad Gandiya from church premises in and around Harare.
Police have kept their distance.
But Michael Chongore, the registrar and lawyer representing the
victimised Gandiya, said in an interview this week that he had filed a constitutional appeal against the Supreme Court ruling by Chidyausiku.
“We have challenged the Supreme Court ruling by Chidyausiku because it
clearly contravenes sections 18, 18(1a) and 18 (9) of the Constitution
of the country,” said Chingore.
The Zimbabwe constitution provisions read in part: “Subject to the
provisions of this constitution, every person is entitled to the
protection of the law.”
The Supreme Court ruling was made after a January 2008 High Court
order that said that the Kunonga faction “must share the use of the
church property with the Anglican church of the Province of Central
Africa led by Bishop Gandiya”.
Several clerics within the Anglican church have expressed concern over
the ongoing violence that has turned the church into a political
Central to the wrangle is the issue of homosexuality and Bishop Kunonga
claims he does not accept homosexuality within the church.
This chimes with President Mugabe’s views as he has openly condemned
homosexuality, calling people involved as “worse than dogs and pigs”.
It is perhaps for this reason that the police are giving a blind eye
to the violence that is being perpetrated by the faction led by Bishop
Kunonga, a staunch supporter of President Mugabe and his ZanuPF.
In 2001, Bishop Kunonga received a former white-owned farm through
the Zanu Pf led land reform programme.
Kunonga hired thugs to brutally evict the 40 families that lived and
worked on the farm, which is 40 kilometers outside Harare in
Mashonaland West province.
The faction led by Bishop Gandiya has been attending church services
outside or in premises donated by other churches like the Catholic and
Methodist churches because they are barred from using their premises by the other faction.
A number of priests have been beaten by the Kunonga faction simply
because they support Bishop Gandiya and, in one instance, an orphanage
has been taken over forcibly by members of the Kunonga faction.
Meanwhile, other churches have stepped in, condemning the Kunonga
faction for its violent behaviour.
The Christian Fellowship has advised Kunonga to stay away from politics and stick to the core business of serving God.
“Kunonga is tarnishing the image of the Christian society in
Zimbabwe,” said Rev Sony Chimbuya this week.
Meanwhile, High Court Judge, Justice Tendai Uchena, has advised that a
ruling on the Anglican wrangle will be made on September 23 to allow
both parties to make supplementary submissions to the courts of law.
The two factions have also been advised to examine the ruling made by
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is expected in Harare
during the second week of October and is likely going to discuss the
wrangle when he meets President Mugabe.