Churches feel vulnerable after Mugabe re-election
By Robert Marquand, Christian Science Monitor
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the main challenger, says he will not join in a new governing coalition but is contesting the credibility of the July 31 vote in court.
Fears are on the rise in the capital of Harare, reports say, that under one-party rule, a host of Mugabe’s old partners, cronies, henchmen and friends will start to come out of the woodwork to take advantage of the hour.
Foreign-owned banks, mines and businesses have heard that to fulfill a campaign promise made by Mugabe, their assets may be seized and restructured into a majority national ownership arrangement.
Now it appears the considerable property of the Anglican church in Zimbabwe, though it is mostly a black membership, may also be under renewed scrutiny by the unscrupulous.
The chief Anglican bishop in Zimbabwe, Chad Gandiya, last week accused a renegade clergyman and friend of Mugabe of restarting a campaign using brutality, the courts and police to seize churches, orphanages and missions owned by mainstream Anglicans.
Gandiya told AP that Nolbert Kunonga, a defrocked bishop who stumped for Mugabe and last week called him a leader “sent from God,” is using the emotion around the landslide vote as an opportunity to seize property associated with the Church of England.
Several years ago, Kunonga, who is US-educated and has told the New York Times that he is a “superior person” to the other members of the Anglican clergy, began by legal and extralegal means to take over church properties, including the cathedral of Harare.
Gandiya told reporters that Kunonga last week sent thugs into his own home in Harare, where they stole cellphones and records of church holdings and personnel.
Gandiya also said that in the area of Murewa, outside Harare, local police are supporting Kunonga’s effort to take over a mission, and to evict 100 children from the Shearly Cripps orphanage, first started by British and American missionaries.
From this report, issued by ACNS, it can be seen that the old spectre of attempts to destabilise the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been resurrected – with the newly installed government of Robert Mugabe, elected by stealth according to recent reports, reverting to its threats of instability. Mugabe’s cronies – including former Bishop Norbert Kunonga who is no longer a bishop in the Anglican Communion – are set to re-visit their program of persecution of the authorised Anglican Church in the region.
Kunonga’s recent engineering of a break-in at the home of the legitimate Bishop of Harare, Chad Gandiya, in order to steal cell-phones and sensitive Church papers, is a sign of that apostate bishop’s intention of renewing the persecution of the Church that had begun before he was de-frocked by his African Provincial brethren. Our prayers are needed for the future of our Church in Zimbabwe.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand