17 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Anglicans Reclaim Cathedral After Cleansing Ceremony

Parishioners and church leaders from the main Anglican Church (CPCA) gathered in Harare's Africa Unity Square on Sunday, to perform a cleansing ceremony before finally reclaiming their Cathedral from ex-communicated Bishop, Nolbert Kunonga.

The Cathedral and many other church buildings and properties in Harare province had been seized by Kunonga after he split from the CPCA in 2007. The breakaway Bishop used a favourable High Court ruling, support from the police and violent ZANU PF thugs to keep the CPCA locked out.

But after five years, Kunonga appears to have been abandoned by them all. The CPCA won a legal battle for control of the properties at the Supreme Court this month, and have proceeded to evict Kunonga's supporters and tenants.

Reverend Dzavo told SW Radio Africa that the police have actually been escorting them as they reclaim their buildings and evict Kunonga's supporters.

"For the past five years they have been on the other side helping Kunonga. We are happy that finally they are doing their work without any prejudice and it has been generally peaceful. There was some resistance at first but that has stopped, Reverebd Dzavo explained.

The Reverend said the ceremony in Africa Unity Square was to give thanks for having their property back, after being forced to worship in community halls and open public spaces for five years. It ended with a blessing and rededication of the Cathedral to its rightful purpose.

Despite losing the legal battle Kunonga's Lawyer Jonathan Samukange filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court last week, challenging the High Court's refusal to deal with their latest application.

The breakaway Bishop was seeking to block the deputy sheriff from evicting those occupying the buildings he had taken. But on Monday Judge George Chiweshe said he had no jurisdiction to hear the matter because the Supreme Court had already ruled on it, and decided Chad Gandiya and the CPCA were the rightful owners of Anglican properties.

Kunonga's lawyers have adopted a different strategy, and now claim that the fresh application at the Supreme Court was submitted by the Anglican Church Province of Zimbabwe (ACPZ), not Kunonga himself.

Reverend Dzavo said Kunonga was sadly allowing himself to be conned by lawyers who know that the Supreme Court will not go against its own ruling.

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