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Unpaid Anglican priest sues church for $68 000

By Mashudu Netsianda

The leader of the Anglican Church at St Columba’s Parish in Makokoba has taken the church and his superiors to court demanding US$68 500 in allegedly unpaid allowances and salary arrears.

Father Edgars Kasongo, through his lawyers Vundhla-Phulu and Partners, filed summons at the Bulawayo High Court citing the Anglican Diocese of Matabeleland, its bishop and the Diocese of Province of Central Africa, as defendants.

He wants a court order that compels the defendants to pay him his salary arrears, outstanding fuel, airtime, chaplaincy and parochial allowances.

Father Kasongo is also accusing the church of failing to provide him with an official vehicle since his assumption of pastoral duties at St Columba’s Parish in 2013. He is demanding $54 000 for allegedly using his personal car on church business.

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“The first defendant (Anglican Diocese of Matabeleland) has failed and neglected to provide me with a vehicle for official pastoral duties for a period of six years. I have been using my personal car and it has to date travelled 54 000 km and I need $54 000 being the wear and tear costs calculated at $1 per km,” he said.

Father Kasongo said he is also entitled to $14 500 being outstanding salaries and allowances.

He said despite numerous demands, the church has failed, refused or neglected to pay him his dues.

“The first defendant has failed and neglected to pay me my outstanding basic salary calculated at a rate of $379 per month including accumulated parochial, airtime and fuel allowances.

“The third defendant (Diocese of Province of Central Africa) directed the first defendant to cease payment of my parochial allowances. Further, the first defendant has failed and neglected to pay me $12 000 being my chaplaincy allowances from St Columba’s High School accumulated over a period of four years,” he said.

The defendants are yet to respond to the summons.

In 2013, Father Kasongo made news headlines soon after his appointment when he was locked in a nasty feud with church members who accused him of making unnecessary changes in the church such as the submission of Lent offering in unsealed envelopes.

The congregation argued that his changes were likely to compromise the confidentiality of the Lent gift as people might refrain from offering.

Father Kasongo allegedly introduced changes to the processes and conduct of a number of church administrative and pastoral activities, resulting in members of the congregation walking out in protest. Congregants also accused Father Kasongo of using authoritarian tendencies to run church meetings after dissolving the church council. The Chronicle