Supporters of Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa today have filed a complaint alleging the 21 Feb 2013 vote to elect an archbishop and primate for the Anglican Church of Tanzania was marred by fraud.
The lay and clergy members of the synod who brought the complaint have asked the House of Bishops to set aside the election and remove the ACT’s General Secretary Dr. Dickson Chilongani and its Registrar Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi, from office. They claim that 8 constitutional violations occurred in the voting including the casting of four extra votes in an election that challenger, the Bishop of Mpwapwa Jacobo Chimeledya, won by three votes. Charges have also been raised that money from the Episcopal Church in the USA was used to buy the votes of some delegates, enticing them to vote for Bishop Chimeledya.
However, supporters of the archbishop-elect have denied the charges of misconduct, claiming that it was Archbishop Mokiwa who used foreign money to secure support from the electors. Archbishop Mokiwa did not respond to request for comments while the archbishop-elect could not be reached as of our going to press.
Unofficial reports from last week’s meeting state that 129 of the 140 electors participated in the vote, and that Bishop Chimeledya was elected on the third ballot. However, Anglican Ink has been told by supporters of Archbishop Mokiwa that American money corrupted the election process.
It is alleged that $50,000 was used to buy support for the archbishop’s challengers, with the aim of pulling the ACT out of the Gafcon movement and breaking with the Anglican Church in North America. The American money was allegedly used to exploit the tribal and regional frictions that divide the Tanzanian church, and to boost the minority group of bishops who have declined to break with TEC and like Bishop Chimeledya, have participated in the Indaba process or in bishop to bishop conversations with the Anglican Church of Canada.
Organized by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams the Indaba process is a series of small group meetings between American and Canadian bishops and their African counterparts which seeks to bridge the divide over doctrine and discipline within the Anglican Communion. However, the program has generated some controversy and has been dismissed by the Global South movement as ineffective and biased towards the progressive cause.
Opponents of Archbishop Mokiwa have disputed claims of vote buying, and have alleged that it was the archbishop who spread money around to secure his reelection – money donated by the ACNA and the Episcopal Church. The Tanzanian church has long been divided into tribal factions, a split between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals, and a regional divide between the coast and the interior. Archbishop Mokiwa has been unable to consolidate his support among the House of Bishops, several of whose members have voiced their unhappiness with his leadership.
A returned missionary told Anglican Ink it is likely that both sides accepted money from American sources, but this would not have changed the outcome of the vote. “Tanzanians are generally cynical about money from the West: take it if offered, but then go about your business as you think best.” He added that in his opinion the dispute “probably doesn’t have much to do with larger Communion issues, if at all.”