Pack and go, Kunonga ordered

HARARE - Nolbert Kunonga, the disgraced and ex-communicated Anglican bishop, and his surrogates have until Friday to pack their bags and leave church properties they violently took over after being ousted from the church.

The Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) says it will move to evict Kunonga and his charges if they ignored the grace period, given after the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that Kunonga’s property takeovers were illegal and he should make for way for the rightful owners.

The court order ended the epic battle for control of church assets between Kunonga and the CPCA.

Justices Yunus Omerjee, Vernanda Ziyambi and Luke Malaba concurred on the verdict.

At the courthouse, whistles were blown as elated Anglicans, forced into “exile” by the renegade bishop (Kunonga), celebrated the sweet victory.

For the past five years Kunonga, with the help of the police and rowdy gangs, bolted church doors, confiscated properties, took over hospitals and threw out orphans from church-run orphanages.

He had all along been using a High Court ruling that gave him temporary control of the diocese of Harare.

Chad Gandiya, CPCA bishop of the Harare diocese, spoke to a jovial crowd that gathered at the Supreme Court.

“We prayed, we waited and we have been vindicated,” Gandiya said. “To all Anglicans across the country, let us be gracious in wining. You will be informed soon when we will be moving in. Kunonga should abide by the law as this is the notice for him to move out,” said Gandiya.

Julius Makoni, bishop of the diocese of Manicaland, was blunt declaring: “We are moving in tomorrow (today) in premises that were under control of Kunonga’s surrogate, ex-communicated bishop Elson Jakazi.”

Registrar of the Anglican church Michael Chingore, who is in charge of the church’s vast properties, said if Kunonga does not move by Friday then “we will evict him”.

“We expect Kunonga to leave the premises before Friday, if he does not then we will have to eject him, his followers and whoever is occupying the premises,” said Chingore.

Kunonga has been renting out Anglican Church properties to different companies and with the latest court verdict his tenants could be in a fix.

In the absence of Malaba, Omerjee read the judgment in a packed court. Anglicans from all walks of life, including minister of Constitution and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga came to hear the final judgment.

The Supreme Court ruled that Kunonga had overblown the Anglican Church dispute over homosexuality “which he elevated to the level of proposing it as a policy that there should be no association by members with homosexuals or anyone who sympathised with them.”

Kunonga withdrew from the church arguing the CPCA was in support of homosexuality. On August 4, 2007 Kunonga and his adherents “resolved to secede from the Church over the issue of homosexuality. The Supreme Court ruled that it was not necessary “to dissolve the province to solve the anti-homosexuality problem.”

Omerjee, Ziyambi and Malaba threw away an earlier High Court judgment delivered by Judge Ben Hlatshwayo, “in the face of documents and evidence of the words and actions of Dr Kunonga and his adherents the court is unable to uphold the learned judge’s finding.”

Malaba said Hlatshwayo had directed his mind to one single issue, “as a result he shut his mind to other evidence which had a direct bearing on the matter. It was his duty to decide the question of (Kunonga’s) withdrawal of membership upon consideration of all the relevant evidence placed before him.”

Malaba said the church must be “tolerant and accept that God loves all men equally regardless of their spiritual, physical and moral state.”

Kunonga, a rabid critic of homosexuality wrongly accused the CPCA of supporting homosexuality while the CPCA accepted people “of different creed” as requiring redemption from God.

The three Supreme Court judges ruled that one cannot withdraw from an organisation and still claim the properties of that body as was the case with Kunonga.

“The schism in the circumstances of this case is clear evidence of withdrawal of membership by Dr Kunonga.”

Early this month Kunonga made an about turn, claiming he was still a member of the CPCA but the three judges threw this out.

Kunonga, according to the lengthy judgment, acted in his own capacity when he withdrew from the church and was not representing anyone.

The court also found that Kunonga had resigned and went on to form his own institution Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe (ACPZ).

While Hlatshwayo ruled that Kunonga was a trustee of the CPCA properties, the three judges stated that since Kunonga had withdrawn from the church he could not hold Anglican Church properties on CPCA behalf.

The legal actions: Case by case

Since 2007, Kunonga and his followers have asserted their right to use the buildings belonging to the Diocese of Harare (CPCA).

- 19 January 2008: Justice Rita Makarau (HC345/08) ruled that Kunonga and his followers should share the church premises with the CPCA, with the former conducting their services first before the latter conducts their services, 90 minutes later.

- 24 July 2009: In Case Number HC4327/09, High Court of Zimbabwe judge, Justice Ben Hlatshwayo declared that Kunonga’s supporters were the legitimate Board of Trustees for the Diocese of Harare.

The ruling further affirmed that the property belonged to the Diocesan Trustees for the Diocese of Harare under Kunonga.

Aggrieved by both judgments, the CPCA lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe on the same day, relying on the common rule of practice in the superior courts that an appeal suspends the decision appealed against.

This approach paved the way for the consecration of Bishop Chad Gandiya.

- 28 May 2010: Justice Hlatshwayo summoned the CPCA and Kunonga’s Province of Zimbabwe to his court chambers.

At the meeting he claimed that he had dealt with the main dispute over properties, when he declared that Kunonga and his Trustees were the legitimate Board of Trustees for the Diocese of Harare on July 24, 2009.

To him there was no need for a trial and the only outstanding issue was to who pays the costs of the litigation of  July 24 and the main case that the CPCA wanted to proceed by way of trial.

- The CPCA applies to the Supreme Court (SC130/2010) to have the appeal which was dismissed, reinstated and be argued on its merits than being dismissed on technical grounds, bringing three cases involving the Anglican dispute at the Supreme Court. The third is an appeal which was lodged by the Province of Zimbabwe against Justice Hungwe’s ruling that Kunonga did not have the locus standi to claim the ownership of the property of Harare Diocese

- 22 October: Supreme Court dismisses five of Kunonga’s six appeals but reserves judgement on the main case of whether the renegade Anglican Bishop indeed left the church. Kunonga also shocks the whole Christian community by arguing he has never left the church despite him having declared his formation of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe and passed disparaging remarks on the head of the Anglican Church Rowan Williams on his visit to the country a few months ago.

- 19 November 2012: Kunonga’s world crumbles around him as the Supreme Court confirms he left the Anglican Communion and has no right to the church property because he had seized to be a trustee when he left in 2007. — USPG/STAFF WRITER

Comments (1)

Good riddance to this piece of garbage

Peter Macklyn - 20 November 2012

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