Anglicans celebrate 'sweet victory'

HARARE - Anglicans in Manicaland are returning to their properties following a Supreme Court victory against renegade bishop Nolbert Kunonga.

Anglican bishops told the Daily News yesterday that celebrations were underway and parishioners will be going back to their properties anytime this week.

On Monday the Anglican Central Province of the Church Africa (CPCA) won a “sweet victory” in the country’s highest court.

The Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu who gave control of the church property to the CPCA.

Kunonga’s surrogate, the ex-communicated Bishop Elson Jakazi had wrestled church properties from CPCA and was “running down” the properties.  

A Supreme Court bench comprising justices Luke Malaba, Vernanda Ziyambi and Yunus Omerjee threw out Jakazi’s appeal on Monday and the Anglican Church leaders, pensive for five years, immediately described the victory as “fantastic”.

“The people there can all return to their churches. I am still pinching myself,” an ecstatic Gandiya told reporters soon after the court victory. “I have always told people that I’m prepared to be surprised, and I am surprised.”

CPCA parishioners were said to be on cloud nine after the ruling, according to CPCA diocese of Manicaland Bishop Julius Makoni.

“People are filled with joy because we are finally taking back what is rightfully ours. We are going to be taking back 60 percent of our properties,” said Makoni.

Given the Kunonga faction’s penchant for violence, it might be an uphill task repossessing the grabbed CPCA properties, but Makoni cares less.

“We are going to take back our properties and we do not care whether they do not leave or not. The law will take its course, we are going to take everything that is ours because that is a Supreme Court ruling,” said Makoni.

Kunonga, who duly resigned from the CPCA, on Monday made a dramatic u-turn, claiming that he was still part of the church, reducing himself to the status of bishop.

He had previously claimed he was an archbishop of his new church the Anglican Province of Zimbabwe.

He created the new church after walking out on the pretext of the CPCA’s alleged “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,  Rowan Williams, described as “a grave litany of abuses”.

Retired Bishop Sebastian Bakare, Gandiya’s predecessor, said after years of watching the grabbed institutions deteriorating, Anglicans are buoyant.

“People are so happy because after years of painfully watching schools like St Augustine and hospitals like Bonda Hospital being rundown, people here are jumping,” Bakare said.

“What made people so sad was to see such institutions going to waste and we hope with the ruling, we will be able to restore such institutions to their former status.”

Bakare who has been intricately involved in the five-year saga said the door is open for Kunonga followers to join the main wing of the church.

For now though, they have to move out just as CPCA members did five years ago.

“They should leave because when we were kicked out from the properties on orders from the police, we obeyed, now it is their turn,” said Bakare.

Jakazi was, however, defiant.

“The case was struck off the roll so it is going to be heard again. There was never a judgment that gave church properties to anyone,” said Jakazi.

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