Three complaints have been lodged with the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) by members of the church's general synod alleging misconduct and fraud in the conduct of last month's election of an archbishop.
On 3 March 2013 Dr Dickson Chilongani, Provincial Secretary of the ACT, released a statement announcing the election of the Rt. Rev. Jacob Erasto Chimeledya "as the new Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania."
He stated "the bishops welcomed the election result, some describing Chimeledya as a ‘humble’ [servant leader] who will strengthen unity within the Anglican Church of Tanzania and enhance its mission."
The statement said the "election was carried out by a special Electoral Synod which consisted of bishops, pastors and lay people numbering 129 in total. After the election all the 25 bishops present (except two who are studying in South Africa) expressed their support to bishop Chimeledya’s election by signing a legal document to endorse the results. Bishop elect Jacob Chimeledya will succeed Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa after his installation on 19th May 2013."
However supporters of the sitting archbishop, Valentino Mokiwa of Dar es Salaam, cried foul. A 27 Feb 2013 complaint seen by AI has alleged eight constitutional irregularities in the voting, including the casting of four more ballots than electors present. The claim put forward by Dr. Chilongani was ingenuous, they added, stating that while the House of Bishops may have endorsed the election, the Lay and Clergy Houses of Synod had not.
They have also claimed that $50,000 of American money was used to buy votes for Bishop Chimeledya. Funneling American gold into the impoverished church was a ploy to split the ACT off from the Gafcon movement and hand the Anglican Church in North America its first defeat in the battle for the support of the African church.
Supporters of Bishop Chimeledya have rejected these charges, saying it was Archbishop Mokiwa who had sought to influence the election with cash. Archbishop Mokiwa was seeking to use his post as a Gafcon primate to distort the dispute by convincing supporters in the West his defeat was engineered by foreigners rather than local political considerations. They tell AI the archbishop-elect is a firm Evangelical whose support for Christian truth is not conditioned by bribes. Copies of the complaints have appeared in the Tanzanian press, and a rebuttal is expected to be released shortly by Bishop Chimeledya.
Disputes over the election of a primate have divided the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Church of Rwanda and the Church of Pakistan. Lord Carey was able to broker a resolution to the African splits but was unable to end the Pakistan schism which remains ongoing. Under the current structures of the Anglican Communion, resolution of the dispute is an internal matter for the ACT.