Interim bishop for Manicaland after Jakazi excommunicated

05 June 2008

by Pat Ashworth

THE BISHOP of Manicaland, the Rt Revd Elson Jakazi, has been excommunicated for committing schism — the same action that was taken against the deposed former Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga (News, 23 May).

Elson Jakazi was elected Bishop in 2006, after an election that had been postponed because of vote-rigging. Mr Jakazi joined Mr Kunonga in withdrawing his diocese from the Province and attempting to set up his own in September 2007.

The Dean of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, the Rt Revd Albert Chama, has invited another former Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Peter Hatendi, to be interim Vicar-General of Mutare and Bishop of Manicaland. Bishop Hatendi was Zimbabwe’s first black bishop from 1979 to 1995.

The Bishop, who is fit and active, had been willing to stay in office beyond retirement age, but a vocal faction insisted he go. Despite a shortage of clergy, he was not allowed to continue to minister. He has protested against the lack of provision for retired clerics in Central Africa, other than those in Harare who are deemed to be politically correct.

“Clergymen who are politically correct serve ad infinitum,” he wrote to the Church Times in April 2005. “Those who are perceived to be ‘enemies’ of the regime are expelled or deposed without trial as good for nothing. The young and active seek employment elsewhere. The aged, like me, die in silence and despair.”

In a letter to Bishop Chama this week, Pauline Makoni warns that the hierarchy of the Province must support her father, Bishop Hatendi. “I recall the anguish he suffered on his retirement when those who asked him to continue left him to bear the brunt of false accusations while privately assuring him of their intention to openly profess their position,” she writes.

“I want my father to fulfil the dictates of his calling; but I have seen him betrayed by the Church more than once and I do not want to see him destroyed. . . Now that you have told him the Province needs him and thus left him with no option, I pray that is indeed the case and that he will have the full support of all concerned.”

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