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Police evict Kunonga from offices

by Pat Ashworth

POLICE in Harare on Wednesday forcibly evicted Nolbert Kunonga, the excommunicated former Bishop of Harare, from the diocesan offices, after he failed to comply with a court order ( News, 23 November).

The move was not without its drama. The deadline was 4 p.m. on Monday, but, as the hour ap­proached, Kunonga engaged a new lawyer and went to the High Court for an application to stop the eviction.

He was still claiming to be the legitimate Bishop of Harare, despite the Supreme Court judgment of last week, which ruled that the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya was the rightful Bishop, and that all property seized by Kunonga and his followers must be returned, and premises vacated.

Kunonga appeared in the High Court in Harare on Tuesday, claiming to have taken the churches "from the British", a stance Bishop Gandiya described as "madness" and "totally unnecessary".

Speaking just minutes after the eviction on Wednesday, he reflected: "It's a long road to freedom. . . But now Kunonga is no longer located in the main diocesan office, this will send a clear message out to all his clergy, who have been lied to."

Bishop Gandiya had expected resistance, but had sought, never­theless, to have the business con­ducted amicably and quietly.

Kunonga's followers, however, demanded eviction orders before agreeing to move out. These were being served from last Friday. Con­gregations began in great jubilation to return to their church buildings on Sunday, and some held midweek services, although the picture is still patchy.

All the buildings, many of which have been violated, misused, or put to secular use, are to be cleansed, beginning with St Mary's Cathedral on 16 December. The cathedral stands opposite Africa Unity Square, where Anglicans are expected to gather in huge numbers for a thanks­giving, before as many as can be accommodated process into the building for its rededication.

Bishop Gandiya said that his churches now had an unexpected problem as a result of the adversity that they had endured. "Many of our congregations have grown so much that they no longer fit into the build­ings. That's a cause of great jubilation," he said.

But the diocese of Harare faces huge financial problems as it reclaims the properties. Kunonga's occupiers have not been paying bills, and large amounts of money are owed to local authorities and to energy companies. In just one parish, Glen View, the outstanding energy bill is reported to be in the region of $12,000.

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