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The ending of the Kunonga project

21 December 2012


From the Revd Melusi Sibanda
Sir, - Just over a year ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury paid a week-long visit to the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), which included not only a visit to Zimbabwe, but also a meeting with President Robert Mugabe. During the meeting, Dr Williams gave the President a dossier concerning the predicament of genuine CPCA Anglicans under the former Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga.

Asserting that homosexuality was a foreign issue and, therefore, anathema to African culture, Kunonga decided to leave the CPCA in 2007, when he formed his so-called Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe (ACPZ). For five years, Kunonga held on to the properties belonging to the CPCA until very recently, when the situation was remedied through a judgment of the Supreme Court.

All along, Kunonga unleashed fear on genuine Anglicans in the country and, often being backed by uniformed state security, seemed to enjoy the support of President Mugabe's ZANU (PF) party. Kunonga openly supported the party's political culture of indigenisation, which he actively manipulated in his project for self-aggrandisement, turning CPCA churches, rectories, and mission stations into money-making schemes.

Dr Williams's meeting with President Mugabe was a crucial point in the Anglican saga in contemporary Zimbabwe, as it strengthened the position and credibility of the CPCA and weakened Kunonga's claim to legitimacy. Dr Williams may have taken a risk in being the highest-ranking British official to meet President Mugabe in a decade, but his visit led many to start questioning Kunonga's venture.

Together with the positive turn of events in recent weeks, that visit can be seen as one of Dr Williams's successful engagements with temporal authority and support for global Anglicanism. It is a cause for celebration as he comes towards the end of his tenure, and also underlines the fundamental nature of the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury as one of the Instruments of Communion.

St Stephen's Vicarage
Edgewood Road, Rednal
Birmingham B45 8SG

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