ZIMBABWE: Zanu-PF’s Kunonga Ordered to Repay Anglican Church $430,000
November 18, 2015
PRO-ZANU PF cleric and former Anglican Church bishop for Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, has been ordered to repay some $428,000 looted from the church in a fire sell of assets after he was sacked.
High Court judge, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, ordered Kunonga and his associates to return the money which was realised from the disposal of Church shares in several companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Kunonga sold the share at a give away price of $270,000 but the court ruled that the church was entitled to recompense at the market value of $427,892, plus interest.
The cleric was fired for misconduct by the Anglican Province of Central Africa in 2006 but refused to leave claiming he was being victimised over his opposition to homosexuality and supporting President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
A cheer-leader for Mugabe, Kunonga once described the president as a “prophet of God”.
The dispute resulted in violence across the church in Zimbabwe with Kunonga later establishing a rival (Anglican church) and forcibly seizing control of various properties.
A Supreme Court ruling five years later ended the chaos, ordering Kunonga to vacate the properties.
However, Anglican church lawyers, in the latest case, said Kunonga sold, a huge loss, shares in various companies.
BAT Zimbabwe – 8 391
Dawn Properties – 1 006 486
Delta Corporation – 150 586
DZL – 122 956
Econet – 6 510
Old Mutual – 5 925
Seed Co – 78 641
TN Financial – 1 909 900
ZPI – 864 833
Sale of shares prejudiced Anglican Church members of $427,892.
An audit carried out after the Supreme Court decisive judgment in 2012 revealed that the shares had been unlawfully disposed of.
Harare advocate Thabani Mpofu, representing the church, then issued summons against the breakaway group claiming $529,000.
In his ruling, Justice Mathonsi said Kunonga and his associates should repay $427,892 plus interest calculated from September 2007 to the date of payment in full.
“Clearly, therefore, from the time the first defendant and his followers resolved on August 4 2007 to secede from the plaintiff church, they ceased to have any right over the property of the plaintiff they previously controlled or held in trust,” the judge ruled.
At the time of his despotic rule over the Diocese of Harare in Zimbabwe, Bishop Norbert Kunonga took advantage of his personal friendship with President Robert Mugabe to exercise undue authority over the legal disposition of the property and lives of Harare Anglicans – both in his own diocese and the Anglican Church of Zimabawe.
The extent of Kunonga’s desire to obtain property for his own benefit – rather than that of the Church he was ordained to serve – became clearly obvious, together with his close identification with the Mugabe regime, in its blatant discrimination against the minority homosexual community in Zimbabwe. His identification with Mugabe and other suspicions of mis-rule led the Province of the Anglican Church in Central Africa (of which the Church in Zimbabwe was a part) to relieve him of his diocesan bishopric.
Then, despite his having been replaced by another provincial bishop approved by the Central African Province, Kunonga continued to claim his diocesan position – aided and abetted by President Mugabe and Mugabe’s henchmen – maintaining his episcopal residence and claiming control of Harare Cathedral and other diocesan properties, despite his non-recognition by the official Anglican Church in Zimbabwe and in the Province of Central Africa.
It seems now that his situation; as having usurped the property rights of the Diocese of Harare, and of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe; has been recognised by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, which has ordered the ex-bishop to repay the market value of Church Investments he had mis-appropriated. Justice, at last, can be seen to have been brought about in this saga of injustice to the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe by this deposed, and now discredited, ex-cleric.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand