By Fidelis Munyoro
The Church of the Province of Central Africa’s Diocese of Harare says it is legally flawed for ex-communicated Bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga’s four co-defendants to disassociate themselves from the alleged looting committed during the cleric’s reign.
The four men – Alfred Tome, Beaven Michael Ngundu, Justin Nyazika and Winter Shamuyarira – last month dumped the embattled Kunonga from his futile attempt to wrestle control of the Church of the Province of Central Africa’s Diocese of Harare.
This comes in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in April this year, dismissing Dr Kunonga’s ultimate appeal, finding him liable with his four lieutenants – trustees of his Anglican Church of Zimbabwe – for damages in excess of $427 000 after he led the church into schism in 2007.
The quartet approached the High Court to reverse judgment and cut their liability from the cleric.
In its opposing papers, the CPCA said the quartet’s contention that they did not act jointly with Dr Kunonga in looting the church’s assets was an obvious lie.
“Equally untrue is the applicant’s assertion that they were not Kunonga’s lieutenants and trustees in his breakaway church,” said the Registrar of the Diocese of Harare, Mr Michael Chingore, who deposed an affidavit.
He stated that the matter was now settled.
“This application for rescission of judgment has been lodged by the applicants in a speculative manner with a view to try and avoid the consequences of the monetary judgment against them,” said Mr Chingore.
The CPCA filed their opposing papers out of time and now seek condonation of the late filing of the notice of opposition and upliftment of the automatic bar.
But the four, through their lawyer Ms Rumbidzayi Zvimba of Zvimba and Madzima Law Chambers, are opposing the application for condonation.
Ms Zvimba said the CPCA application for condonation was irregular and should not be entertained by the court.
“It is submitted that the applicant’s flouting of rules of procedure was wilful and malicious as it was done to delay the application for rescission of default judgment noted by the respondents under case number Hc3870/17,” she said.
Ms Zvimba said the court should not be used to condone gross negligence by lawyers as the Interpretation Act was clear how one ought to compute days.
“A clear wilful malicious disregard of the rules of this court should never at all costs be tolerated.”
The dispute first came to court in 2007.
The four men were sued together with Dr Kunonga in their capacities as the Diocesan trustees for the Diocese of Harare.
The four, acting in concert with Dr Kunonga, instituted their own action under case number HC427/08 in which they were trying to wrestle control of the CPCA assets.
At no point did the four men ever allege that they were not part of the Diocesan Trustees who had taken control of the church assets.
The Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling that found the five had improperly sidetracked assets belonging to the Diocese and were ordered to reimburse the church with costs.
But Tome, Ngundu, Nyazika and Shamuyarira argued they were not aware of the court case.
They said a judgment was passed without affording them an opportunity to defend themselves.
Only Dr Kunonga appeared before the court to plead his case, they asserted.
They further claimed that Dr Kunonga had sole control of the assets and they should not be held liable. The Herald