19 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Kunonga Faction Crumbles

Bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s faction has all but crumbled with most of his followers failing to conduct church services amid claims of bankruptcy following their eviction from Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) properties on the back of a Supreme Court ruling.

Kunonga's faction has also suffered major defections to either the latter or different other churches after Supreme Court appeal judges ruled last month that rights to Anglican properties were legally vested in the CPCA led by bishop Chad Gandiya.

In some cases, Kunonga's followers have abandoned church services altogether in sharp contrast to the vigilance displayed by Gandiya's members who defied harsh conditions and leased new premises or even conducted services under trees when the former seized control of their buildings.

Kunonga reportedly called his followers to his Mt Hampden farm last week and told them they should find alternative means of raising money because he had no immediate solution to the crisis they were facing. But the failure by the majority of his members to conduct church services a month after the Supreme Court verdict even in the open as their rivals did for five years has raised questions as to their commitment to the gospel.

Richmond Makiwa, a pastor belonging to Kunonga's camp, confirmed attending the Mt Hampden meeting where they were told of the financial crisis gripping the faction.

Makiwa, who once worked as a tout before ascending under Kunonga to head St James Mabvuku Anglican parish, told The Financial Gazette yesterday that he was now conducting service at a house in Mabvuku because they could not afford rentals required either at schools or at other premises.

He said he had not bothered to request for funding from Kunonga to sustain their operations because he knows that even at the "highest level there is no money".

"I was a tout for seven months; it is not unusual for someone to rise from herding cattle to be a pastor. I am not concerned about the numbers of people coming to my church because even if they are two or three I am doing God's work," said Makiwa.

"When we were told at the meeting to find alternative ways to find resources, I was not worried because I worship to Jehovah Jireh, he is God the provider, he is going to provide."

Precious Shumba, bishop Gandiya's spokesperson, yesterday said some of Kunonga's pastors were now seeking to join the CPCA, but were agonising over the condition that they can only rejoin the church as ordinary members.

"His bishop Morrison Brown Gwedegwe at St Andrew's Mvurwi has been insisting on setting up an appointment with bishop Chad, through the Church wardens there, so that he might be forgiven and admitted as a priest of the Anglican CPCA. Like a host of the other priests that Kunonga created or ordained, they are desperate to escape from Kunonga, but they do not know how, considering that most of them were being used to unleash violence and made death threats against Anglican CPCA during our time in exile," said Shumba.

"At Mbare, there were eight Kunonga people attending their service at a house near the Church but last Sunday reports indicate that they did not gather...The Anglican Harare CPCA reiterates that under bishop Chad, people have learnt to forgive and to be patient under difficult circumstances. Anglicans have put their trust and faith in God to deliver them."

It now seems that Kunonga is paying a heavy price and his fortunes are ending the way they began; at worst being deserted by the majority of members and at best attracting less than 10 members.

In a recent interview, Kunonga himself put the number of his followers when he broke away from the CPCA at 10. He added that he also went into "the street" and made some of the people he attracted pastors.

He said: "When those people left, they left me, my wife, a few priests and a few congregants and we totalled a number of 10... When they went away, I went into the streets, looked for men and ordained them so that they could go and preach in the name of God". -- Staff Reporter.

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