Zimbabwe: let justice roll on
Posted: 11/25/2012 at 7:02pm
-- Anglican Church rejoices as Supreme Court rules against Kunonga
By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Monitoring
Special to ASSIST News Service
AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- After excommunicated rogue bishop, Nolbert Kunonga -- also known as Mugabe's bishop -- broke away from the Anglican Church in 2007, he forcibly occupied and seized control of a vast array of church properties, including the cathedral in Harare, numerous churches, vicarages, schools, clinics, orphanages, offices, vehicles and bank accounts.
Kunonga, who has been linked to violence against Anglicans, including the murder of 10 clergy, has long been backed by pro-Mugabe police and ZANU-PF thugs. Anglicans suspect Kunonga of complicity in the February 2011 murder of Jessica Mandeya (89), a lay leader in the rural parish of Mashonaland East who was raped, mutilated and strangled after she refused to join Kunonga's pro-Mugabe faction. Kunonga denies any part in this, retorting that if he were going to kill anyone, it would be his nemesis, Bishop Chad Gandiya.
On 12 August 2011, Zimbabwe's Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku released an interim order confirming Bishop Chad Gandiya as the Bishop of Harare, but upholding the 24 July 2009 High Court ruling granting the illegitimate bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, control over all Anglican Church assets in Harare.
On Monday 19 November 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the appeal put forward by the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and led by Bishop Chad Gandiya. It also set aside, condemning as "wrong", two judgments that had been granted in favour of the Nolbert Kunonga-led "Diocesan Trustees for the Diocese of Harare" entitling them to control of Anglican church properties.
For full report from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) see:
Supreme Court decision ending unprecedented assault on religious freedom welcomed
20 Nov 2012
ZLHR is advocating that immediate action be taken "to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the violations that, for almost six years, visited Anglican Church parishioners including the disadvantaged youn g children at CPCA-run orphanages around the country. Such action," it said, "will have the effect of contributing positively to the restoration of public confidence in the justice delivery system."
Supreme Court Judge Yunus Omerjee, who read the judgement, said: "When one leaves a club one does not take its property with him or her. It has long been established as a salutary principle of law in this area of property ownership that when one or more people secede from an existing church, they have no right to claim church property even if those who remain members of the congregation are in the minority."
See: Kunonga loses Anglican property fight
by Moses Chibaya, New Zimbabwe, 19 Nov 2012
Daniel Nemukuyu reports: "After the ruling, Bishop Gandiya and his followers broke into wild celebrations outside the Supreme Court with some singing hymns and dancing."
Dr Kunonga has been ordered to return all Anglican properties illegally seized from the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Speaking after the Supreme Court judgment Zimbabwe's Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, David Coltart, himself an Anglican, said: "Our prayers have been answered for the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe. I now look forward to working with them to restore sanity in their schools which have suffered so much during this period of insanity. As usual my door is open if they need help in this regard."
"We prayed, we waited and we have been vindicated," said Bishop Chad Gandiya. "This is God's doing . . . "We have been in exile for five years, but now we are going back home."
Bishop Gandiya de scribed Monday's ruling as a "pleasant surprise" and appealed to all Anglicans to be "gracious in winning".
Of course it might be too much to expect that Kunonga will be gracious in losing. Implementing the order might not be as straight forward as issuing it.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate and an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at the Melbourne School of Theology. This article is an edited version of a posting written for her blog: Religious Liberty Monitoring .
Source: Assist News Service
Edited by News Room on 11/25/2012 at 7:03pm