FINAL judgment is awaited from the Supreme Court in Harare,
which sat on Monday to deal with all the outstanding issues
concerning the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.
The seven cases were scheduled to take a week but the business
was concluded by 1 p.m., and, for the first time in the bitter,
five-year battle for justice, the Church's lawyers were satisfied
that the matters had been dealt with fairly.
The lawyers had done a "fantastic job", said the Bishop of
Harare, the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya, on Monday afternoon. Judgment has
already been given in the case concerning Manicaland, where the
three judges upheld an earlier decision in favour of the Church of
the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and threw out the appeal of
the excommunicated bishop, Elson Jacazi.
"The people there can all return to their churches," said Bishop
Gandiya. "I am still pinching myself. I have always told people
that I'm prepared to be surprised, and I am surprised." The
remaining cases all stem from the main matter to be ruled upon,
i.e. who is the legitimate Bishop of Harare and chairman of the
Board of Trustees. Bishop Gandiya declared himself satisfied at how
the matter had been dealt with.
"We are happy that no favouritism at all took place," he said.
"Deputy Chief Justice Malaba dealt with the law. In the end, it was
very clear what the issues were." The Bishop is clearly optimistic
about the outcome, but continues to be cautious, adopting a "so
far, so good" approach and is urging continuing prayer and
Since the three judges were all political appointees, Bishop
Gandiya had said on Sunday that, "Anything could happen."
Nolbert Kunonga, the excommunicated former Bishop of Harare, and
Mr Jacazi, the excommunicated former Bishop of Manicaland, both
claim to be the legitimate bishops - and Kunonga to be archbishop
of the illegal "Province of Zimbabwe" he created when he and Mr
Jacazi withdrew their dioceses from the Province of Central Africa
in 2007, on the pretext of its "support for homosexuality".
Since 2007, Kunonga - who had 39 serious charges against him as
Bishop of Harare, and walked free from an aborted ecclesiastic
trial in 2005 - has subjected Anglicans to what the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, described as "a grave litany of
abuses" when he met President Robert Mugabe in October last
Dr Williams promised then: "We will continue to fight for the
restitution of all our properties in the courts wherever and
whenever their ownership is challenged." And he urged the President
Mugabe, whose favourite Kunonga was, to ensure that court rulings
were "respected rather than ignored".
The Anglican Province's legal battle has suffered from political
influence by President Mugabe himself. Early judgments ruled that
Kunonga should share premises with the CPCA until the "dispute"
over assets and funds had been resolved.
A farcical judgment by Hon Justice Hlatshwayo in July 2009
recognised Kunonga as the incumbent Bishop of Harare (CPCA), and
his supporters as the legitimate Board of Trustees, on the grounds
that he had conceded to "turn back the clock" and renounce his
schismatic actions as though they had never happened. The CPCA
lodged an immediate appeal in the Supreme Court, which ensured
suspension of the decision, and enabled Bishop Chad Gandiya to be
consecrated that month.
Violence and persecution intensified as Kunonga won police
support for the implementation of the Hlatshwayo judgment. In March
2010, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ruled the CPCA's appeal valid, a
ruling totally ignored by Kunonga and his followers, despite the
dismissal of an appeal by his Board of Trustees. Things got worse
from May 2010, when Hlatshwayo summarily called both parties to his
court chambers, claimed he had dealt with the main dispute over
properties and declared there was no need for a trial.
The CPCA appealed to the Supreme Court against Hlatshwayos's
interpretation of the main case, arguing that his refusal to hear
it was a denial of their constitutional right to justice. Bishop
Albert Chama, now Archbishop of CPCA, demanded that year: "How can
such a process meet with the approval of a judge where justice,
farirness, impartiality and the protection of fundamental rights,
are supposed to be ingrained as guaranteed tenets of an independent
judiciary, without fear, favour or prejudice?"