Anglican campaign goes international

A dossier containing shocking details of the persecution of defenceless Christians handed to President Robert Mugabe by outgoing Arch bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has not helped.

Anglican members
Anglican members

Five months on, ex communicated bishop, Nolbert Kunonga continues with his campaign to decimate the legitimate Anglican Church with apparent support from State apparatus such as the police.

As huge masses of Anglicans are forced to pray under trees and in school classrooms, Kunonga’s renegade outfit continues to run down institutions such as schools and health institutions that it has forcibly taken over.

In a bid to keep the legal challenge mounted by the legitimate Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), a faith based group, USPG has launched an international campaign to support under fire Anglicans in Zimbabwe.

“It is hard to imagine the persecution which priests and people are suffering in Zimbabwe – from people who call themselves Christians,” the group says on a flier being distributed worldwide to galvanise support.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which has also been offering support to the local Anglican community, has previously condemned the continued persecution of the Christians as evil.

Below, USPG gives an account of the hell that Kunonga had put Zimbabwean Anglicans through. Troubled Anglicans It is hard to imagine the persecution which priests and people are suffering in Zimbabwe – from people who call themselves Christians.

Dr Kunonga used to be bishop of the Anglican diocese of Harare, in Zimbabwe. In 2007 he left, and he and his followers were later ex-communicated by the CPCA, of which Harare is a part. Kunonga set up a new church in Zimbabwe, called the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, appointing himself as archbishop. Then he obtained a court order in 2008 which entitled him to share the church buildings with the legitimate Anglican Church, pending the resolution of legal disputes.

Since 2007, the legitimate Anglican Church in Zimbabwe (recognised by the Anglican Communion), which refers to itself as the Diocese of Harare (CPCA), has been under attack from Dr Kunonga. With the support of police and henchmen, he has seized church property and used violence to break up church services. In an interview with the New York Times, Dr Kunonga said his aim is take control of about 3,000 Anglican churches, schools, hospitals and other properties in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.

Persecution and violence

There have been many instances of persecution and violence. Church members have been tear-gassed and hit; priests have been evicted from their homes and falsely imprisoned; intimidation has been used; care assistants have been evicted from orphanages leaving orphans without proper care.

Because of his closeness to the Mugabe regime, Dr Kunonga has obtained the assistance of the police to evict clergy, teachers and medical personnel from churches, schools and medical centres. The police, without an authorising court order, have assisted and managed to arrest a number of legitimate occupants.

The situation today

The legitimate church has repeatedly appealed in the courts against unfair and illegal action, but there has been a lot of delay.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and some African Archbishops visited Harare in late 2011. They reaffirmed their support for the current Bishop of Harare, Chad Gandiya, and visited President Mugabe to provide him with a dossier of incidents of violence and oppression which the diocese has suffered at the hands of Dr Kunonga, his supporters and the police.

At last, the appeals which the Diocese of Harare has been making to the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe will soon be heard. Scheduled for the middle of 2012, the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe will hear all the appeals in connection with the issue of control of church buildings, which include churches, vicarages, schools and medical centres.

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