14 March 2019

Zimbabwe: Anglicans in Manicaland Demonstrate Against Bishop Over Missing Funds

Business at Anglican Diocese of Manicaland was brought to a standstill , after church members demonstrated against Bishop Erick Ruwona whom they want to resign over allegations of abuse of office and misappropriation of funds.

The protesters handed over their petition to the Diocese secretary to deliver to Ruwona who was not on the premises.

Church members waved placards inscribed with messages denigrating the clergyman "Go well Erick, mbavha munyika and not muchurch, No to Corruption."

Riot police turned down request by protesters to hold a march fearing it may turn violent or cause traffic congestion.

Church warden for St Agnes church in Chikanga who is also a member of the standing committee for Manicaland Diocese, Joseph Mashingaidze said, they were disgruntled over Bishop's mismanagement, misappropriation of resources and intimidation of church members.

Mashingaidze said some members were acting on the Bishop's instruction to barricade the church so that services could not be conducted peacefully.

"We were supposed to conduct our Ash Wednesday as per Anglican tradition but we were not able to do that because the doors were barricaded by people who said they were acting on instructions from the Bishop," Mashingaidze said.

Another executive member for St Agnes Parish in Chikanga Gamuchirai Puwai said they had come to tender a petition expressing their disgruntlement to the local appointing authority over Ruwona's unbecoming behavior.

Among other allegations in the petition were claims that RTGS$ disappeared from the local church's account without trace.

Another RTGS$250 000 overdraft from the same account is alleged to have disappeared as well under Ruwona's watch.

The congregants also allege that the standing committee in the Diocese has been rendered useless in an as far as administering church activities is concerned.

Church warden of St Mathew Rusape Chad Ruwende said they were simply sending a clear message to Ruwona.

But Diocese secretary, Edmond Samuteriko defended the bishop saying the disgruntled members had their own agenda.

"This is the breakaway faction from the Anglican CPCA and they have their own agendas. However, I will hand over the petition to Bishop Ruwona," said Samuteriko.

A few years ago, the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe then lead by Bishop Chad Gandiya was rocked by a power struggle after a group led by the estranged Harare cleric Nolbert Kunonga broke ranks to declare autonomy. The issue was later resolved in the courts leading to Kunonga's ex-communication from the Church.

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