FINAL judgment is awaited from the Supreme Court in Harare,
which sat on Monday to deal with all the outstanding issues that
concern the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.
The seven cases were scheduled to take a week, but the business
on five of them 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", the Bishop of Harare,
the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya, said on Monday afternoon. Judgment has
already been given in the cases 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 Jakazi.
"The people there can all return to their churches," Bishop
Gandiya said. "I am still pinching myself."
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
with the way 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."
Nolbert Kunonga, the excommunicated former Bishop of Harare, and
Mr Jakazi, 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
Jakazi 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 whose ecclesiastical trial was aborted in
2005 - has subjected Anglicans to what the Archbishop of Canterbury
described as "a grave litany of abuses" when he met President
Robert Mugabe last October.
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."
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 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 that he would "turn back the clock" and renounce
his schismatic actions as though they had never happened - a claim
that Kunonga was still making in court on Monday. The CPCA lodged
an immediate appeal in the Supreme Court, which ensured suspension
of the decision, and enabled Bishop Gandiya to be consecrated that
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.
Kunonga and his followers simply ignored the ruling. Things got
worse from May 2010, when Justice Hlatshwayo summarily called both
parties to his court chambers, said that he had dealt with the main
dispute over properties, and declared that there was no need for a
The CPCA appealed to the Supreme Court against Justice
Comments within Zimbabwe this week suggested a shift of attitude
by central government towards Kunonga. Precious Shumba, a spokesman
for the diocese of Harare, spoke of Kunonga as having been "chasing
shadows" in the court. He described the outcome of the proceedings
on Monday as a victory for all the Anglicans in the CPCA who had
been denied access to their churches, schools, clinics, and
"Although final judgments are due, we sense a change in the
attitude towards Kunonga," he told South West Radio Africa. "Even
the ZBC [Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation] has now disowned
The Bishop of Manicaland, the Rt Revd Julius Makoni, expressed
his relief on Tuesday. "The Supreme Court judgment was received
with much joy throughout the diocese," he said. "We were always
confident that the Court would rule in our favour, but this was
still a pleasant surprise. Now the hard work of rebuilding our
diocese, our hospitals, schools, church buildings, offices, etc.
begins. The most important thing is that we now know where we
stand, and can move on with our lives with confidence."
Southwark diocese has partnerships with four of the Anglican
dioceses in Zimbabwe. Canon Bruce Saunders said on Tuesday: "It is
extremely encouraging for all who love and support the Anglican
Church in Zimbabwe to hear that there are judges in the Supreme
Court with the courage and integrity to interpret the law
even-handedly, and to cut through the forest of lies that have
confused this issue for so long.
"Monday's initial judgment appears to be wonderful news for the
diocese of Manicaland, even though it will take years to restore
its churches, schools, and hospitals to their former state. . .
"Bearing in mind how easily Kunonga has ignored previous court
judgments, we will be praying here that the Supreme Court will this
time see that its judgments are not violated."