The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Kunonga Spurns Gandiya Invite

THE head of the independent Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, Dr Nolbert Kunonga, who on Monday lost the legal battle to control the properties of the Anglican Church, yesterday said he was saddened by the development and spurned an invitation to join the Anglican Church diocese led by Bishop Chad Gandiya.

In an interview with ZBC last night, Dr Kunonga said he could not associate with proponents of homosexuality.

"We will continue as a church. It does not matter whether we are in buildings or not. We are a church that is totally against homosexuality," he said.

"I am saddened by these developments. In it we see that homosexuality has prevailed," Dr Kunonga said.

He said he was not worried about who controls buildings but insisted what concerned him was the level of moral decadence affecting Zimbabwe, which he said church leaders were ironically supporting.

Dr Kunonga is still at the Harare Anglican diocese office where he said he is plotting his next move. He refused to disclose where his followers would congregate.

Bishop Gandiya had said the door was open for Dr Kunonga and his camp to join the church.

"The door is open for those who want to come back to the church but obviously we will follow church rules," he said.

On Monday, Dr Kunonga lost the legal battle to control Anglican Church properties after the Supreme Court ruled that he and his followers were no longer part of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

The superior court vested control of the church property to Bishop Gandiya.

It appears most of the churches in the diocese had been rented out to private colleges and crèches whose operations have been thrown into disarray following the Supreme Court ruling.

Anglican priests and parishioners from most parishes in Harare's high-density suburbs yesterday visited the churches and introduced themselves to the tenants as the new owners.

Some of the tenants claimed that they were threatened with eviction, a development that resulted in some quickly resolving to relocate to other centres.

Most pupils were busy writing end-of-year examinations when the college authorities received instructions from members of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa.

The principal of Crystal College based at Anglican's St Michael's parish in Mbare, Mr Irvine Bhachisi, said the college's future was uncertain following the Supreme Court ruling.

"The incoming Anglican authorities were here and they introduced themselves.

"We are not certain of our stay here. It is really a transitional period and it is sensitive. We are going to sit down with the church authorities and table our proposals.

"But from my own assessment, the new owners are co-operating and we may survive," he said.

Mr Bhachisi said Crystal College has an enrolment of 150 pupils and it had been offering high standards of education.

A reverend from the Bishop Kunonga side was moving around the church premises inspecting the properties with the incoming authorities in preparation for a hand-over take-over.

Bethel Academy that operates from St Faith's Anglican Church in Budiriro said they would move out today.

The principal, a Ms Muunganirwa, said she had been notified of the eviction plans and that she was now moving her pupils to one of Bethel Academy's centres.

"The incoming authorities informed us that we should move out although they did not give us a date to do so. Considering that we have other centres, we have resolved to move our classes to those," she said.

Mr Kiven Dzikamai, who operates Shalom College at St Andrew's Church in Glen View, said the new authorities had visited the church warning them of some intended changes.

"They have been here this morning introducing themselves as the legitimate owners of the properties. We talked and they informed us that anytime they may be changes to our operations.

"We do not know what to do neither do we have anywhere to go. Our children are currently writing their end-of-term examinations and I hope there will not be any disturbances," said Mr Dzikamai.

Mrs Mapuranga, who operates Little Intellects Creche at the same premises, said she hoped her children's graduation on December 4 would not be disturbed.

"Children at my creche are graduating on December 4 this year and I hope by that day, we will be still here. The new church authorities said they will come back to us after sitting down with others," said Mrs Mapuranga.

The Kunonga priests could not be found at the church houses.

Most of the houses were locked while children and some elderly relatives could be seen at some of the houses.

Jophie College at St Joseph's Church in Dzivaresekwa demanded to see a copy of the court order before any talks.

An administrator at Jophie College who refused to be named said:

"They came here yesterday talking of the court order and informing us of the eviction intentions but we demanded to see a copy of the order first before we engage in any talks," she said.

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