27 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Victory for Manicaland in Long Awaited Judgment

The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has ruled in favour of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa [CPCA] in a legal case involving the Province and breakaway former bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland Elson Jakazi.

Diocesan Secretary Fr Luke Chigwanda confirmed the "good news" to Anglican Communion News Service. He said: "We are glad to share with you the good news that the long-awaited judgment is out and it is in our favor."

"Thank you for your prayers and may you please continue to pray for us as we get into the last phase of moving into our properties. Pray especially for the Bishop as he does the paperwork to facilitate evictions."

In 2007, Jakazi and his supporters broke away from CPCA and unlawfully took over the Cathedral, churches and many other church properties. But a final ruling by the Supreme Court confirmed that Jakazi and his supporters had withdrawn from the Church "in their individual capacities".

It added: "The Diocese could not be withdrawn by the applicants [Jakazi and supporters] from its first respondents [CPCA].

Bishop of Manicaland, the Rt Revd Julius Makoni was very happy with the favourable outcome. "The Supreme Courts' judgment in our favour brings an end to uncertainty in the Diocese. Now we know where we stand and can start the process of rebuilding the properties," he said.

The Bishop recounted the experience that the Diocese went through saying it was "difficult and excruciating but being a people of faith, we knew there was a purpose in all this and knew there was light at the end of the tunnel." He added, "We knew that God would not abandon us and that we would win at the end of the day."

In November last year fellow Anglican Diocese of Harare also won a long running legal battle with excommunicated former bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga when the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe ruled that the Church of the Province of Central Africa were the lawful owners of all the diocesan church properties.

Reacting to the ruling, Archbishop of CPCA the Most Revd Albert Chama said the battle in Manicaland has "been a long, rough road but it's a joy to the Province since, in the end, we have seen the victory and justice has finally been done."

He added: "The victory brings a different dimension to the faith and the missions of the church. People never had the freedom to worship and yet the church continued to grow."

Bishop Makoni said he appreciated the support given to them by the rest of the Anglican Church. "The Anglican Communion cares. One part was suffering but the amount of support that we got was amazing," he said. "We maybe small but we were never left alone by the Communion."

The Bishop finally warned: "We should be gracious in victory. We should not gloat and should stay focused because we have learnt through hope and faith that there is victory at the end." We should now look with compassion on our brothers on the other side and let them know we are the light and they should come and join us," he said.

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