By Zvamaida Murwira
PRIESTS of the Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga-led Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe have gone for two months without pay.
The ACPZ recently lost a Supreme Court case which forced it to cede all church property to the Chad Gandiya-led Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa Harare Diocese. Some of the priests yesterday told The Herald that they last received their October salaries in November.
Church authorities however dismissed the allegations saying the priests are owed a month’s salaries. ACPZ spokesperson Reverend Admire Chisango said: “I have checked with our accounts people, their paymaster, we only owe them one month wages.”
“It is normal in every institution that people might not get their wages on the day when they are due (and) it is not peculiar to us alone.” He accused a group that split from the ACPZ of peddling falsehoods.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the priests said they had since started looking for alternative employment. Others have defected to the newly formed Anglican Reformed Church of Zimbabwe-led by Dr David Kunyongana, formerly of ACPZ.
Dr Kunyongana announced recently that he was splitting from ACPZ to form the ARCZ. He took with him a number of priests, including Reverend Simeon Makove, who used to be head of security for ACPZ.
Rev Makove was also security adviser to Archbishop Kunonga owing to his military background. The priests said Archbishop Kunonga convened a meeting at his Mount Hampden farm early this month.
“He told us that we are free to look for alternative employment because we are going through hard times. The Archbishop also said he would assist those with residential stands with building materials such as cement. Our worry is that we have not been getting our wages pegged at US$150 per month.”
Archbishop Kunonga has since announced that he will continue with God’s work using alternative premises after CPCA won the right to control church properties. ACPZ has over 30 stipendiary priests while it has also enlisted the services of more than 70 non-stipendiary priests.
Stipendiary priests are on monthly wage while non-stipendiary priests do voluntary spiritual work and are employed elsewhere.
Some of these non-stipendiary priests have been using their colleges as worshipping places. The source said some non-stipendiary priests have since secured alternative premises to worship. One of the priests running several colleges in Chitungwiza uses one of the learning institutions as a place of worship.
“Since the court judgement, there has been uncertainty, one parishioner repossessed his vehicle that he had donated to a priest after the court ruling,” he said.
The Supreme Court ruled last month that Archbishop Kunonga had no right to continue holding on to church property after withdrawing from the ACPCA. He however launched another court battle at the High Court which he lost but has now approached the Supreme Court on appeal. The superior court is still to rule.