The ex-communicated Anglican Bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, has lost the latest round in his controversial campaign to take over Anglican Church properties from the main church (CPCA).
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed five appeals that had been lodged by the Kunonga faction, as well as two others launched by his Manicaland counterpart and supporter, Bishop Elson Jakazi.
The appeals were struck off the court's register after Kunonga's lawyers made a u-turn and claimed he was still the CPCA's legitimate Bishop of Harare. This is despite the fact that Kunonga formed his own Church Province of Zimbabwe and appointed himself Bishop of Harare.
Judgement was reserved by Chief Justice Luke Malaba in two other cases, where Harare Bishop Chad Gandiya and the CPCA are seeking to overturn a High Court decision that granted Kunonga and six others, custodial rights to CPCA property in the Harare diocese. The three judges are also due to decide who is the legitimate Bishop of Harare and chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Known as "Mugabe's Bishop", Kunonga had used the High Court ruling to illegally take over Church property in provinces outside Harare. His loyalty to ZANU PF has ensured support from the police and party thugs, who have been harassing CPCA parishioners and evicting their staff from church properties.
Harare diocese spokesperson, Precious Shumba, expressed joy at the development, saying Kunonga's lawyers had been "chasing shadows" and their presentation was shallow and lacked facts.
"As CPCA we feel that this is a victory for all the Anglicans who have been deprived of access to their properties, particularly the schools, clinics and orphanages. Although the final judgements are still due, we sense a change in the attitude towards Kunonga. Even the ZBC last night disowned him," Shumba said.
He added that the CPCA was aware of Kunonga's desire to defy court judgements, but they believe this time it will be difficult for the ex-communicated Bishop because of the change in central government's attitude.
On Monday the Supreme Court questioned Kunonga's claim that he was still the Bishop of Harare under the CPCA, after lawyers referred to his letter of resignation from the main church and Bishop Albert Chama's response accepting the resignation. This weighed heavily against Kunonga and his supporters.
Online readers of the state run Herald newspaper reacted en masse to Kunonga's loss, ridiculing him for trying to make a u-turn and claiming to still be the Bishop of Harare under the CPCA. "Kusanyara", wrote one reader, meaning "no shame".
Another blasted Kunonga, saying: "I think this man had no spiritual calling. Akaenda ku ministry for the purposes of enriching himself at the expense of Christians. He surely is a disgrace."