18 November 2015

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF's Kunonga Ordered to Repay Anglican Church $430,000

PRO-ZANU PF cleric and former Anglican Church bishop for Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, has been ordered to repay some $428,000 looted from the church in a fire sell of assets after he was sacked.

High Court judge, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, ordered Kunonga and his associates to return the money which was realised from the disposal of Church shares in several companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Kunonga sold the share at a give away price of $270,000 but the court ruled that the church was entitled to recompense at the market value of $427,892, plus interest.

The cleric was fired for misconduct by the Anglican Province of Central Africa in 2006 but refused to leave claiming he was being victimised over his opposition to homosexuality and supporting President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.

A cheer-leader for Mugabe, Kunonga once described the president as a "prophet of God".

The dispute resulted in violence across the church in Zimbabwe with Kunonga later establishing a rival (Anglican church) and forcibly seizing control of various properties.

A Supreme Court ruling five years later ended the chaos, ordering Kunonga to vacate the properties.

However, Anglican church lawyers, in the latest case, said Kunonga sold, a huge loss, shares in various companies.

These include:

BAT Zimbabwe - 8 391

Dawn Properties - 1 006 486

Delta Corporation - 150 586

DZL - 122 956

Econet - 6 510

Old Mutual - 5 925

Seed Co - 78 641

TN Financial - 1 909 900

ZPI - 864 833

Sale of shares prejudiced Anglican Church members of $427,892.

An audit carried out after the Supreme Court decisive judgment in 2012 revealed that the shares had been unlawfully disposed of.

Harare advocate Thabani Mpofu, representing the church, then issued summons against the breakaway group claiming $529,000.

In his ruling, Justice Mathonsi said Kunonga and his associates should repay $427,892 plus interest calculated from September 2007 to the date of payment in full.

"Clearly, therefore, from the time the first defendant and his followers resolved on August 4 2007 to secede from the plaintiff church, they ceased to have any right over the property of the plaintiff they previously controlled or held in trust," the judge ruled.

"That property includes the various shares belonging to the plaintiff, which they later disposed of."

"When they sold the shares, they were in fact selling property that did not belong to them," the judge said.

Justice Mathonsi said while Kunonga's group sold the shares at a giveaway price of $270,000, the church was entitled to the prevailing price at the time of the sale.

"I agree that the value purportedly realised by the defendants, namely $270 000, when they decided to give away the shares at a bargain, does not come into it.

"The plaintiff is entitled to the true value of the shares at the time they were sold.

"The defendants had no business selling them at a bargain. For doing so, they must carry the cross for their lack of diligence."

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