By Mthulisi Mathuthu
Ex-communicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga has reportedly grabbed back the Anglican Church’s St Luke’s Bvumbura parish in Chikomba District.
Last week Kunonga’s loyalists forced out parishioners with the help of local traditional leaders, ZANU PF politicians and government officials. A Wednesday Daily News report quoted Reverend Muyengwa Murombedzi, the priest in charge at the parish, saying worshippers were threatened with arrest if they ever returned to the property.
Murombedzi said Chief Chivese and headman Razaro Gombiro Mudavanhu ordered congregants to make way for Kunonga’s loyalists, led by Reverend Tirivanhu Gomo.
Kunonga was expelled from the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa in 2008 and went on to form the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe.He then seized over 90 properties belonging to the Anglican Church.
However, Kunonga lost control of the St Luke’s parish to the main Anglican Church in 2012 following a Supreme Court ruling ending his six-year battle with his successor Bishop Chad Gandiya.
According to the report Murombedzi said Kunonga’s loyalists are claiming the ownership of the parish saying it was constructed by them. They also claim that it has been earmarked for conversion into a primary school, a claim denied by local education authorities.
Lameck Tsoka, police officer commanding Chikomba District, confirmed the incident but is quoted saying they have advised Kunonga’s loyalists to ‘go back to the courts and seek redress’.
But Precious Shumba, a spokesperson for the Anglican Church, said the police should have arrested Kunonga’s loyalists for disregarding a court order.
Shumba told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that the development ‘raises questions about the police’s commitment to the enforcement of the rule of law’. He said the parishioners have a right to worship without interference. Shumba added that Kunonga should find better ways to sustain his ‘ill-fated life’
He said Kunonga is ‘a madman unrestrained’ and the police should act to end his ‘reign of terror’.
Kunonga is known to be a friend of President Robert Mugabe’s and the two are vehemently opposed to the inclusion of sexual minorities into mainstream social life. It is believed that Kunonga’s impunity comes from his connection with Mugabe. SW Radio Africa