Kunonga Barricades Cathedral
“It has really become an embarrassment to be an Anglican, coming to service with police and security details watching over you as you pray simply because someone is powerful enough to deploy these people at the expense of the ordinary person. People are losing their lives because of crime, property etc but they see it fit to deploy at different Anglican churches. I’m embarrassed.”
Harare Parishioner: Cathedral of St Mary and All Saints
Last December Kunonga announced from the pulpit he splitting from the Anglican synod, claiming that senior bishops supported homosexuality. In his announcement he echoed longstanding Mugabe quotes that gays are “worse than dogs and pigs.”
Thugs hired by ousted Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, barricaded the main cathedral on Sunday in an attempt to stop a ceremony ushering in the new Bishop.
The Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) replaced Kunonga with Bishop Sebastian Bakare, after the controversial Mugabe supporter unilaterally withdrew the diocese from the main church. Kunonga has since been waging a defiance campaign with his small group of violent supporters disrupting church services around Harare. The Anglican Church was forced to abandon plans to use the cathedral and instead concluded the entire ceremony in a sports stadium one kilometre away.
Father Michael Chingore, the registrar of the diocese of Harare, told journalists; ‘We were holding a communion service before the investiture and we were supposed to have gone to the cathedral, but it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to get in. We were told there were thugs. It was barricaded. The doors were locked. We didn’t want to have a fight, so we stayed at the sports centre.’ Kunonga’s unruly mob, made up of state security operatives, had locked the doors and gates at the cathedral and are said to have threatened anyone who came close to the building.
Despite the drama thousands of Anglicans thronged the City Sports Centre and made their support for Bishop Bakare very clear. More than 15 bishops from different diocese in the country and region attended. A diplomatic Bakare avoided talking about Kunonga and compared the Harare diocese with the biblical broken walls of Jerusalem, saying the diocese needed to be rebuilt. Reports say Zanu PF member Victoria Chitepo, widow of the late nationalist Herbert Chitepo, attended Bakare’s enthronement, as did retired Harare diocese Bishop Peter Hatendi.
Kunonga meanwhile is licking his wounds after High Court Judge Charles Hungwe last week threw out his application to bar Bakare and the CPCA from using Anglican property in Harare. Justice Hungwe ruled it was very clear that Kunonga’s Harare diocese, ‘cannot exist outside the constitution of the CPCA.’ He further stressed that, ‘Kunonga’s diocese was nowhere near demonstrating that it has placed itself within the purview of those who confess to be Anglicans and who abide by the constitution.’ The judge also said Kunonga violated the constitution of the church by breaking away from the province. (Lance Guma.)
Lambeth Palace has issued the following statement in response to reports that some Anglican church services in Harare have been disrupted by state officials:
The Archbishop of Canterbury condemns unequivocally the use of state machinery to intimidate opponents of the deposed bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, and is appalled by recent reports of Zimbabwean police forcibly stopping Sunday services in several churches in Harare where clergy have publicly and bravely refused to acknowledge Kunonga’s Episcopal authority. The Archbishop of Canterbury stands in solidarity with the Province of Central Africa (which covers Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana) and the other loyal Zimbabwean bishops in supporting the acting Bishop of Harare, Bishop Sebastian Bakare.
Nolbert Kunonga was replaced as Anglican bishop of Harare in December of last year after illegally separating from the Province of Central Africa and installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe. He did not receive an invitation to the Lambeth Conference when they were issued last May. Kunonga’s position has become increasingly untenable within the Anglican Church over the last year, as he has consistently refused to maintain appropriate levels of independence from the Zimbabwean Government.