30 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Of Politicians, Clergymen . . .

THIS week I have decided to write an open letter to Bishop Nolbert Kunonga in the aftermath of the court ruling that has judged against his claim to the Anglican Church properties. Dear Bishop, it is with regret that I learnt of your loss after the five year legal wrangle that pitted you against the Church of the Province of Central Africa led by Bishop Chad Gandiya. It is unimaginable that the two of you once belonged under the emblem of the God-fearing Anglican Church and worshipped the same God with one accord. The battle that raged in the last five years paid no testimony to your knowledge of God almighty and His teachings. Instead of showing our embarrassing politicians what it means to be godly and how to influence our society to be orderly, peaceful and people-centred; you neglected that role and instead played the same melody as the politicians.

In fact; when you began to take-over the Anglican Church properties, it was obvious that some politicians saw this as an opportunity to do what they do best; to try and ride on churches to amass votes. Others have also intimated that your courage to challenge the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa and to confiscate its properties was actually driven by these politicians. I guess the truth will only be known by you dear Bishop. What is however, clear is that; whatever you were up to in the last five years; the hand of the politicians was clear and you seemed to be cuddled by its embrace.

In the midst of the court battles; we heard top politicians flatteringly praising you as a religious hero who was fighting to indigenise the institution of the colonial Church. You graced national events and always had your seat reserved at the top tables; mingling with the political echelon. There was even a time when others alleged that some politicians had the power to sway legal opinion in your favour. I remember at one instance when you were given the podium by the politicians. You spoke so intimately about politics we nearly forgot you were a man of the cloth. Bishop, I have no problems with any clergyman professing any allegiance to any politician or political party. It is however. of concern when we allow politics and politicians to divide the Church of God and the institution of worship. You, of all people should have known that politicians must never be given a foothold in Church affairs. Once that happens, they have a propensity to desire to attract votes at all costs even if it means destroying the fabric of our worship to God. They are so daring that they see no difference between the sacred and the secular. Their obsession is to use whatever lies in their way to ensure that they attain another five year term in political office or at least enter such office; if they are on the outside.

One thing we should note Bishop is that these politicians can also disown and abandon you once they have attained whatever they desire or when they feel you no longer offer then any political mileage. That is the cruel world of politics which is unlike our compassionate world in the ecclesiastical order. They can "spit" you out as fast as they commissioned you. I just wonder why the ever so dependable politicians have now neglected you and let you lose this legal battle; or have they? Maybe they will regroup and encourage you to disregard the court ruling; like most of them nearly always do. Already we hear that some of the church members who had joined your faction are refusing to release church properties to Bishop Gandiya's camp. Maybe again, that could be the tutelage from these conceited politicians. Remember some of them have gained some proficiency in holding on to property that is not rightfully or legally theirs.

Someone tells me that you had now become costly to some politicians as 2013 elections draw nearer. The multitude of the Christian community in Zimbabwe, which is estimated at about 80 percent of the population, was beginning to be disgusted by how you were forcibly taking over Anglican Church properties and the inhuman treatment of people in some of the institutions you were running. There were reports of workers who were being left mercilessly jobless; there were school children who were being kicked out of schooling facilities like they were outcasts; and there were allegations of abuse of people in some of the care institutions. The generality of the Christian community in the country was beginning to speak boldly against these allegations. Like I said to you before Bishop, politicians are interested only in numbers and how they can possibly be turned into votes. I am also made to understand that your supporters were dwindling meaning you were possibly reneging on your side of the bargain; to lure in the numbers needed by the audacious politicians. This could have led to the sudden turn of fortunes against you. Having pushed this far for five years is no joke; but I guess like all politicians, these ones had to consider where their bread is most buttered.

Bishop, I am not sure what your next move is going to be. I however, see some residual resistance to the court order instructing your faction to hand over all properties. I want to offer my bit of advice; not that it's worth your while but as a caring Zimbabwean Christian, I feel I am obliged to. The word of God is clear about forgiving each other as we would want God Himself to forgive us. You are a great candidate for forgiveness only if you truly and genuinely ask for it. Remember God is not only interested in people asking for forgiveness but more importantly on repentance; which I am sure you are aware is a total turn away from any form of inequity. I urge you Bishop to ask for forgiveness both from God and from those you have tormented in the last five years. Once you have done that, your actions need to reflect a repentant lifestyle. Like the Bishop Chad Gandiya faction has indicated, they seem to have all willingness to accept you as a Church member and a part of the great Anglican movement should your soul search for this journey of repentance. In fact, if you truly repent not even this Gandiya faction has spiritual authority to deny your full restoration into the Church and into the wider family of joyous worship unto our Lord.

However, for now, let this message be clear; politicians are momentary friends, whose eternal sin is abuse of willing vessels, and daringly even if those vessels are men of the cloth. Bishop we must understand the different tales of the politicians and the clergymen and ultimately be able to separate the two. That in some essence is wisdom.

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