1 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Anglican Row Turns Violent

Photo: Facebook
Nolbert Kunonga

A PRIEST aligned to Bishop Chad Gandiya's Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa was yesterday seriously injured after being struck with a brick by supporters of Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga during an eviction at the Tafara Anglican Church in Harare.

The attack comes amid calls by various church leaders for the feuding bishops to observe peace towards each other.

Police spokesman Superintendent Andrew Phiri said Reverend Naboth Manzongo sustained a deep cut on the forehead after being struck with brick during the eviction of Archbishop Kunonga's Rev Teddy Mukariri.

Police said Rev Manzongo was rushed to Parirenyatwa Hospital for treatment.

"No arrests have been made yet, but the assailants are known. We are still investigating the matter," said Supt Phiri.

Five men aligned to Archbishop Kunonga reportedly manhandled the deputy sheriff during the eviction of a priest from an Anglican house.

Evictions resumed yesterday in various parts of Harare, despite ACPZ's pending urgent chamber application.

An assistant to the deputy sheriff was pushed and shoved while carrying out his duties before being denied entry into Number 101 Central Avenue where Reverend Tendai Mutongomanye, a son-in-law to Archbishop Kunonga, stayed.

Rev Mutongomanye's wife is the one who operated a crèche at the Anglican Cathedral.

At the time of the eviction, Rev Mutongomanye was not present.

The gang locked up the gate and denied the deputy sheriff's team access to the premises.

This prompted the team to seek police reinforcement.

When the police reaction group arrived, a group of violent youths jumped over the precast wall and fled.

Police scaled over the gate and caught up with the elderly Rev Mukariri who had remained inside the house.

There was drama at the house as the elderly reverend clashed with the police.

He denied ever possessing keys to the gate and other rooms, despite relaxing alone in the house.

Rev Mukariri shouted at the police and refused to leave until they dragged him out.

The priest refused to board the police van, prompting policemen to lift him up and throw him at the back of the vehicle.

Rev Mukariri, who was always on his mobile phone communicating to different people about the police actions, threatened to report the officers to their seniors.

"You cannot do that to me. I am a priest and again I am much older than you are. I am old enough to be your grandfather.

"I will report you to your bosses. You do not know me," said Rev Mukariri.

He remained in the truck under police guard until the process was completed.

The police later dropped him off along Samora Machel Avenue as they proceeded to another church property at Number 123 Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.

Evictions were effected in most parts of the city with limited resistance.

The deputy sheriff evicted ACPZ priests in Kuwadzana, Kambuzuma, Chitungwiza, Highlands, Mufakose, Rugare, Chisipite, among others.

Resistance was met at the Central Avenue property, St Monica's parish in Chitungwiza and at St Columbus in Kuwadzana.

Various churches yesterday condemned the current wave of violence in the Anglican Church.

Pastor Erasmus Makarimayi of the New Gate Chapel said there was need for reconciliation.

"We are yet to speak to (Archbishop) Kunonga but our word of advice is that he needs to react positively to the hand of reconciliation that Bishop Gandiya has offered," he said.

Pastor Makarimayi urged fellow church leaders to concentrate more on assisting those who had been genuinely following Archbishop Kunonga.

"The Bible makes it clear that the Church belongs to God alone. This means no one owns anything even those who have been declared by the courts to be the rightful owners of the properties. If they know this then they will approach the situation with caution."

Chair of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe Dr Goodwill Shana said true Christians should be law-abiding.

"If courts rule, then we follow that. We do not expect Christians to be living against the law and to be engaged in fighting.

"I haven't looked at the depth of the court ruling but our understanding is that the courts have always said Archbishop Kunonga was no longer part of the Anglican Church," he said.

Dr Shana said the court ruling was just.

"It appears that it is fair, we do not support the fighting and defiance of the courts and the law," he said.

After the Supreme Court ruling last week, Archbishop Kunonga engaged lawyers seeking to reclaim control over the church properties and to sway the church's initial decision.

Other church leaders refused to comment on the situation, claiming they were to privy to the Anglican dictates.

"I cannot comment, not on this one. If this was happening in my church I would be better placed but this whole occurrence was just a surprise to me," said Bishop Joshua Dube of the United Baptist Church.

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