22 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Anglican Church in Debt

THE Anglican Church's Harare Diocese has said it will file a police report against Dr Nolbert Kunonga's Province of Zimbabwe after an inventory indicated that a number of properties could have gone missing. The inventory began on Monday evening in all the 72 parishes in Harare, a few hours after the Church of the Province of Central Africa won the right to control the properties at the Supreme Court.

The properties had been under the control of Dr Kunonga's Church of the Province of Zimbabwe since 2007.

Briefing journalists in Harare yesterday, CPCA Bishop Chad Gandiya said Dr Kunonga's church would be made to pay outstanding utility bills running into thousands of dollars.

The bills were accrued by Dr Kunonga's team which was in control of the properties over the past five years.

Bishop Gandiya said various parishes owed Harare City Council, Zesa Holdings and other service providers thousands of dollars that should be paid by Dr Kunonga's team.

"Church leadership at parish level have been taking stock of everything at the church buildings, consolidating the inventories to ensure that every item that has ever belonged to the church is properly accounted for and documented," said Bishop Gandiya.

"Items that are found missing will be recorded and police reports would be made to ensure accountability and transparency in all these processes of restoration and rebuilding.

"While the prospects of recovering the looted items might be remote, efforts would be made to ensure that those who illegally occupied our church buildings and caused Anglicans significant suffering are properly rehabilitated following an admission of their transgressions."

Bishop Gandiya said the outstanding bills would be registered in the names of the responsible persons.

"Utility bills have not been paid," he said. "As we repossess our assets, we shall be engaging with the local authorities to ensure that debts at these institutions are properly assigned to those responsible," he said.

"The church cannot be asked to settle outstanding debts owed by illegal occupants, whose illegality has now been confirmed by the courts."

The Herald understands that St Andrew's Parish of Glen View, Harare, has an electricity bill of US$7 000, while the water bill was yet to be established.

Two other parishes owe council to the tune of US$5 000 and US$3 000 respectively. Dr Kunonga refused to comment yesterday.

Bishop Gandiya said colleges and crèches at most Anglican parishes that had been paying rentals to the Dr Kunonga-led church were illegal tenants and their eviction was imminent.

"We must acknowledge that the tenants are occupying the properties illegally," he said.

"We are not going to continue with an illegality. They are abusing our church property and we will ask them to leave."

Bishop Gandiya said they would not evict Parliament from Pax House as it was renting the property legally.

He said lawyers for the CPCA and those for Dr Kunonga were working together to conduct a smooth hand-over and take-over.

The church members who withdrew during the times of trouble to join other churches together with those aligned to Dr Kunonga were free to rejoin the Anglican Church, said Bishop Gandiya.

He said the church held no grudge against those who caused suffering to the church.

Bishop Gandiya said those who had been appointed priests by Dr Kunonga were also free to rejoin the CPCA, but they would not be considered for leadership.

"For the record, we are all humans prone to making mistakes in our lives. Those who wronged us are not our enemies because we all share in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," he said.

"There are those who were made priests and served Dr Kunonga without receiving proper training, whose future is bleak and those who just followed their handlers out of the church, they are all welcome to worship with us."

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