By Never Kadungure
Anglican parishioners were horrified over the weekend when ousted Bishop Nolbert Kunonga was given control of church property by High Court Judge Ben Hlatshwayo.
The judge, a beneficiary of the land reform exercise, just like Kunonga also blocked the consercration of Bishop Chad Gandiya as the new bishop of the Province of Harare, a ceremony that was meant to take place at the City Sports Centre on Sunday.
Justice Hlatshwayo ruled that the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa could only replace Kunonga after charging and trying him.
“Kunonga has to be charged first, tried and removed from office if there is anything against him before another bishop is ordained. Even divorcing a wife has certain procedures that are taken,” the judge ruled.
Kunonga fell out with the church after declaring his support for President Robert Mugabe and the violent land reform exercise. His attempt to get the Harare Province out of the mother church backfired as he was eventually sacked.
For the last few months the courts have asked Kunonga’s faction to share church premises with the majority followers led by Bishop Sebastian Bakare. Dozens of Zanu PF youths and partisan police officers have protected Kunonga and at times assaulted genuine parishioners aligned to Bishop Bakare.
Kunonga has always enjoyed the tacit support of the Zanu PF regime and the judgment by Justice Hlatshwayo came as no surprise given the country’s compromised judiciary. Almost all the judges were given farms as bribes by the regime.