14 December 2012

Zimbabwe: ACPZ Mounts Supreme Court Appeal

THE Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga-led Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court contesting the dismissal of its interdict against evictions. ACPZ on Monday lost an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking to bar the deputy sheriff from evicting the church's membership from Anglican Church properties.

Judge President George Chiweshe dismissed the application on the basis that he had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

He said the Supreme Court had already ruled on the property ownership dispute and his hands were tied.

The Supreme Court ruled that the property in question belonged to the Church of the Province of Central Africa's Harare Diocese led by Bishop Chad Gandiya.

Evictions were effected and Bishop Gandiya's church has reoccupied the bulk of the properties.

Harare lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange of Venturas and Samukange law firm filed ACPZ's notice of appeal yesterday.

In the notice, ACPZ argued that Justice Chiweshe erred in holding that the matter was already dealt with by the Supreme Court because Archbishop Kunonga was a different entity from the church.

Mr Samukange contends that the Supreme Court dealt with the case involving Archbishop Kunonga and that this time it was the ACPZ against the CPCA.

"The learned judge erred and misdirected himself in holding that the appellant's case is res judicata (already dealt with)," he said.

"Appellant (ACPZ) had established on the pleadings that it had not been heard in any court of law and accordingly, there was no judgment operating against it.

"The judge erred in holding that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the application when appellant was approaching the High Court for the first time to have its rights determined."

ACPZ argues that the High Court erred by granting CPCA right of audience when it was clear that it approached the court with dirty hands.

Dr Kunonga was the head of CPCA's Diocese of Harare until September 2007 when he seceded from the church and formed ACPZ.

He then earned the title "archbishop" after forming the Province of Zimbabwe.

His resignation was premised on the differences on the alleged tolerance of homosexuality by CPCA and the support for the Government of Zimbabwe's policies.

CPCA accepted the resignation, but Archbishop Kunonga turned around in court and argued that the resignation was null and void as it was not provided for in the church's canons.

He was seeking to realign himself with CPCA in a bid to claim control over the church properties.

The Supreme Court then ruled that he was no longer part of the CPCA before he officially declared himself the ACPZ Archbishop in the fresh High Court proceedings.

CPCA is yet to file its response to the notice of appeal before the matter is set down for hearing.

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