28 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Defiant Kunonga Refuses to Vacate Anglican Cathedral

Photo: Facebook
Nolbert Kunonga

There was drama in Harare on Wednesday after the breakaway Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, and his supporters, refused to vacate the main Anglican Cathedral in Harare, ignoring a Supreme Court ruling.

Police have refused to intervene and the premises are being guarded by the ZANU PF aligned Chipangano gang from Mbare. The gang assaulted security guards that had been posted by the Harare Bishop Chad Gandiya's main church.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said a child suffered a broken arm while trying to escape when the Chipangano thugs arrived. A security guard was also injured but it is not clear how serious his condition is.

Muchemwa said Kunonga had watched the deputy sheriff break the locks and remove his furniture from buildings at the Cathedral this morning, without any resistance. He also cooperated with clergy from Gandiya's church.

The ex-communicated Bishop had up until 4 P.M. Tuesday to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, which ordered him and his supporters to vacate the Anglican Church properties that he had seized since he split from the main church in 2007. The court ruling also confirmed Gandiya as the Bishop of Harare.

But Kunonga reportedly filed an urgent application at the High Court on Tuesday, in an attempt to block the evictions. Lawyers from both sides were said to be battling it out at the High Court on Wednesday.

According to the Daily News, the renegade Bishop dismissed the 4pm deadline during a telephone interview. Kunonga was quoted as saying: "What do they have? Can they shoot us with guns? No, they can't." before hanging up the line.

Last week, in a surprise ruling, the main church won its Supreme Court battle to regain control of all Anglican Church properties, and to have it acknowledged that Bishop Chad Gandiya is the legitimate Bishop of Harare.

The court said Kunonga had resigned and started his own Church Province of Zimbabwe, therefore giving up the right to own any church property.

The main church immediately engaged the Messenger of Court and issued eviction notices to Kunonga, giving him 48 hours to vacate Anglican buildings. The deadline passed on Tuesday at 4pm and Kunonga is legally in "contempt of court" and liable to arrest.

But the police have supported Kunonga for the five years since he split from the Anglican Church. Our correspondent said police are now refusing to assist the Anglicans in removing the Chipangno thugs from the Cathedral premises.

It's also been reported that violence broke out in Manicaland on Tuesday, when Kunonga loyalists refused to vacate the church buildings they were occupying.

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