Archbishop harassed

October 12, 2011 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

By Thelma Chikwanha, Community Affairs Editor

HARARE – Visiting Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was yesterday
verbally harassed and barred from attending a church service in Mutare and
Penhalonga by thugs believed to have been hired by the excommunicated Bishop
Nolbert Kunonga.

He later told President Robert Mugabe to stop the madness and violence.

The highest authority in the Anglican Church worldwide met with Mugabe after
having been denied entry into St John’s Cathedral in Mutare and St Augustine’s
Mission in Penhalonga earlier in the day by hired kongonya dancing law
breakers.

The Anglican boss saw for himself the lawlessness surrounding his churches
in Zimbabwe. Kunonga is a Zanu PF functionary who has been at the helm of
destabilising the Anglican Church throughout the country.

Williams, who leaves for Zambia today, was in the country at the invitation
of the Anglican Province of Central Africa (CPCA) where he tackled Mugabe
over the issue of murder, violence, intimidation, education, health, relief
and development programmes which were being compromised by Kunonga’s
interference.

“On 18th of February 2011, Mrs Jessica Mandeya of Harare Diocese was
murdered and her body was not discovered for two days until Sunday morning
when friends came to join her to walk to the church.

“We have information which very strongly suggests that she was murdered
because she belongs to the diocese of Harare CPCA.

She had received threats to that effect in preceding weeks and days as she
consistently refused to join Dr Kunonga’s church,” reads part of a dossier
presented to Mugabe at State House yesterday.

The visiting Archbishop, who drove into the country via Mozambique on
Sunday, came face to face with Kunonga’s brutality when placard wielding
Kunonga followers barred him from entering the two churches in Mutare and
Penhalonga to pray.

Williams was denied entry into the school church to hold prayers and had to
worship in the small nun prayer-house nearby.

Kunonga’s supporters were waving and singing and denouncing Williams’ visit
accusing him of supporting homosexuals.

Some of the members who blocked the entry into the church in Mutare had
placards written which read: “Manicaland says no to homosexuality;
Homosexuality is evil; Sodom and Gomora were destroyed because of
homosexuality; Gandiya, Bakare, Makoni how do you invite homosexuality in
our soil.”

“You can enjoy your money though ill-gotten from acts of homosexuality. We
are not with you and will never be with you. Homosexuality is unwelcome in
the church and the Bible states as such,” shouted one angry parishioner who
was in church uniform as the Archbishop walked past.

Makoni (Julius) is the Bishop for the CPCA Manicaland Diocese, while Bakare
is a retired Bishop and Gandiya (Chad) is a bishop of the Harare Diocese.

Williams, however believes that the homosexuality card is being overplayed
and is being used to cover up real issues.

“The issue of homosexuality is a distracting tactic aimed at covering up the
real issues. The church does not allow same sex unions and the allegations
are entirely fictitious,” Williams told journalists at a press conference
after his meeting with Mugabe.

The bishop was accompanied by Archibshops Albert Chama, Primate of the
province of Central Africa and Bishops Chad Gandiya of the Harare Diocese,
Godfrey Tawonezvi of Masvingo, Julius Makoni of Manicaland, Cleopas Lunga of
Matabeleland, Ishmael Mukuwanda, Central Zimbabwe and Trevor Mwamba of
Botswana.

The clergymen told Mugabe they were concerned about unfair arrests of
priests and deacons and continued violence and intimidation of innocent
parishioners at their places of worship.

Mugabe heard how men of the cloth were threatened with violence by armed men
adding on that bishops even received death threats by phone and in person at
gun point.

“It is a matter of the greatest sadness that we are being prevented from
continuing our work to support local and often very needy communities with
healthcare and education. Our priests and people are being denied access to
our own clinics and schools. Many of these institutions have been taken from
us and under current poor or corrupt
management, are being rapidly run to the ground and stripped of their
assets,” the bishops told Mugabe.

Kunonga, a Mugabe ally who was excommunicated by the CPCA over misconduct,
has since taken over 90 properties of the church since 2008, forcing
parishioners to find alternative places of worship.

Recently, the disgraced bishop had care-givers at Shearly Cripps orphanage
in Chikwaka evicted from the orphanage leaving children vulnerable.

Kunonga, who openly supports Zanu PF, has also taken over 19 primary schools
claiming that all the Anglican Church property belonged to him. He even told
journalists recently that the Anglican Church was in fact his throne.

Williams, who described his meeting with Mugabe as candid, said the
Zimbabwean leader was not fully apprised of the situation on the ground.

“The president expressed concern over the damage and said he would speak to
Kunonga. The meeting was peaceable, it was worth coming and it was worth
meeting the president,” Williams said.

The bishops also took a swipe at the police in Harare who disrupted church
services at Kunonga’s instructions.

“In Harare, police have disrupted church services and have been using tear
gas and baton sticks to drive people out of church buildings.”

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