Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Bishop from hell directing police violence

By Everson Mushava

The Daily News on Sunday today exposes the direct link between ex-communicated Anglican Church Bishop Nolbert Kunonga on one hand, and the police and President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party on the other, in his desperate bid to take over the church.

Bishop from Hell: Nolbert Kunonga in his Harare offices with a picture of Robert Mugabe in the background
Bishop from Hell: Nolbert Kunonga in his Harare offices with a picture of Robert Mugabe in the background

Violence has often been the modus operandi for Kunonga and his supporters to seize control of property such as church buildings, schools, orphanages and health institutions owned by the Central Province of the Anglican Church.

Kunonga has enjoyed vital and overt support from police in this endeavour, to the extent that communication in the possession of the Daily News on Sunday show that law enforcement agents received written updates from Kunonga on which spots to raid.

In fact, there has been close contact between Kunonga and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri since 2008 when the dispute began — with the correspondence showing that Kunonga sometimes suggested to Chihuri how the police could effectively destabilise the main church led in Harare by Bishop Chad Gandiya.

Kunonga would also complain to Chihuri about officers he felt were not doing enough to block CPCA parishioners from meeting at various church premises. In return, police bosses gave orders to ensure that only Kunonga’s supporters were allowed near church properties.

The communication also shows that police deployed spies from its internal intelligence unit to keep an eye on the situation as well deploying patrol teams “to saturate their (Gandiya) areas”.

Officers from police intelligence unit (Pisi) were ordered to remain alert, gather intelligence and “alert each relevant Officer-in-Charge with information that requires action without delay.”

Other officers received orders to “ensure that only one church service is conducted by the Kunonga breakaway faction” and to “ensure that no other service is conducted after the Kunonga service has been conducted.”

Kunonga would, each time, faithfully give reports to Chihuri.

In a letter dated October 30, 2008, written to Chihuri — in which Kunonga was giving a brief report on his takeover scheme — the renegade bishop expressed gratitude for the help he was getting from the police, but appealed for more support.

“We give you a brief report Province by Province of what is happening in the Church and appeal for more assistance. We applaud the assistance we are getting from the police. We could have been dragged into chaos but the police were available to silence the Gandiya faction movement at stations like Highfield St Paul,” Kunonga wrote appreciatively to Chihuri.

He even gave advice to the police commissioner on some areas that needed more police attention and how to deal with some police details that were refusing to evict CPCA members without a court order authorising them to do so.

“What we have observed is that the Dispol (district police) Assistant Commissioner sends the directives but the police details under him seem to be undermining the authority. They demand things which are not available at the moment.

“Things like court orders cannot be obtained. The police details should take orders from their seniors, which I believe will help diffuse the Mashonaland West scenario,” wrote a frustrated and impatient Kunonga.

Police in Harare were on the rampage against CPCA members at that time, attracting accusations of using gross violence to disperse CPCA members. The brutal clampdown forced CPCA members to abandon churches to worship under trees and in school classrooms.

“What the police are doing in Harare, we appeal that the same position be taken by the Propols (provincial police commanders) in the Provinces of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West.

“It is good that the pattern remains uniform. If we allow these people to keep using our churches, then there is a loophole somewhere,” wrote the belligerent Kunonga. In his letter, Kunonga also explicitly showed his political inclination.

“However, we cannot run away from our stance that we support the ruling party (Zanu PF) and we shall keep praying for peace and sanity under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe,” he said.

Kunonga’s advisor, Admire Chisango, on Friday said his faction had a duty to keep police informed on developments within the church.

“Chihuri is a professional person. We cannot tell him what to do. We simply talk to him on issues relating to peace and security because we are a peace-loving church. That doesn’t mean we advise him on what to do,” Chisango said.

Gandiya has in the past repeatedly accused police of actively supporting Kunonga. Daily News