Supreme Court date set for Harare property cases

 

Supreme Court date set for Harare property cases

Author: 

George Conger

The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has agreed to hear the appeal of Bishop Chad Gandiya and the Diocese of Harare in its suit to recover the properties expropriated by former bishop Dr. Nolbert Kunonga.
In an email to supporters in the West, Bishop Gandiya reported “the Supreme Court hearing will take place from the 22 October 2012 and will last that week.”
Elected bishop of Harare in 2000, Dr. Kunonga withdrew from the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in 2007 after a series of disputes that included a church trial for theft, heresy, attempted murder and conspiracy.  A vocal supporter of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Dr. Kunonga was rewarded by the regime in 2002 with the gift of land confiscated from a white farmer.
After leaving the CPCA, Dr. Kunonga set up the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe and proclaimed himself archbishop over all Anglicans in the Central African nation.  With the support of the security services and activists from the ruling ZANU-PF political party, Dr. Kunonga began to expropriate church properties in the diocese.
The CPCA asked the court to restrain Dr. Kunonga.  However, rulings directing Dr. Kunonga to share church properties were ignored, while those giving him trusteeship of properties pending a final adjudication were enforced with violence by the security services.
In a ruling handed down in chambers last August, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku upheld a 2010 decision by High Court Judge Ben Hlatshwayo that the Harare Diocesan Trustees – the Kunonga faction – would be given control of the properties until a final ruling was handed. The chief justice dismissed the application from Dr. Kunonga, however, to set aside the consecration of Bishop Gandiya as Anglican Bishop of Harare.
Speaking to a meeting of the Diocese of Natal clergy on 14 Sept 2012, Bishop Gandiya reported Dr. Kunonga had extended his reach to the diocese of Manicaland and Masvingo, taking over church properties from the Anglican bishops with the assistance of the police.  An attempt to confiscate church properties was blocked by the local courts in the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe, while the breakaway bishop had yet to make a move in Matabeleland.
“If Bishop Nolbert Kunonga tries to take over the Anglican Church in Matabeleland, he will be playing with fire,”  Bishop Gandiya said, according to the Diocese of Natal Inzibada.
“Given that Kunonga is Shona, and the history of atrocities that the [North Korean- trained, Shona] 5th Brigade committed in Matabeleland in the 1980s, the people of Matabeleland are most unlikely to stand for Kunonga’s interference there,” the bishop said.
“We look forward to getting back the properties that Kunonga stole from the CPCA. In the meantime he continues illegally to strip the church of assets by selling off its lands,” Bishop Gandiya told the Natal clergy.
In his letter to the West, Bishop Gandiya said he was “appealing for any assistance towards covering our legal bills. Most importantly we are asking you all to join us in a week of prayer and fasting during the hearing period starting on the 22nd October. We want to thank you all for journeying with us during this difficult period in the history of our church.”