ANGLICANS in Zimbabwe have been alarmed by reports that Nolbert Kunonga, the deposed Bishop of Harare and an ally of Robert Mugabe, has designs on church property outside his former diocese.
The Daramombe Mission, in the diocese of Masvingo, to the south of Harare diocese, was reportedly the latest target. The diocese says that Mr Kunonga forced entry into the church at the mission, and changed the locks. He presented what the Priest-in-Charge of the mission insisted were forged title deeds to the property to the police.
On Sunday, the community of the mission held mass in the hall, while Kunonga’s priest held a service in the Daramombe church, “despite having no following from the communicants”, the diocese said in a statement. It is taking legal advice.
Kunonga has said that he is setting up his own province, and intends to take control of 3000 Anglican churches, schools, hospitals, and other properties in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Malawi.
In the diocese of Harare, it is thought that 30 clerics and their families have now been forced out of their homes by Kunonga (News, 19 August). The present Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya, said on Tuesday that the situation was traumatic, especially for those clergy with young families.
“Some have already left their homes; others we have told to hang in there until they have seen proper eviction orders. Parishes are looking to find them alternative accommodation, but it is extremely unsettling for them. The harassment is verbal at the moment, not physical — yet.”
The diocese is waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on its appeal over the custodianship of the properties. Bishop Gandiya said: “We have tried to engage various responsible authorities, but to no avail. We believe this is setting a very dangerous precedent in the country. This is daylight robbery with the support of the law.”