Bishops battle for Zimbabwe's Churches

Friday, August 5, 2011

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

HARARE, ZIMBABWE (Worthy News)-- Former Bishop Norbert Kunonga recently claimed on TV that he was in charge of a popular shrine and all churches in the Diocese of Masvingo.

Kunonga appeared on national television station ZBC TV declaring that he had taken over the Arthur Shearly Cripps Shrine along with all church properties in Masvingo Diocese: 45 in the Chikomba District and 33 in the Buhera District.

Kunonga, who was consecrated in 2001, was excommunicated in 2007 after he tried to withdraw the Diocese of Harare from the Church in the Province of Central Africa. A strong supporter of President Robert Mugabe, Kunonga's claim is supported by local police.

"Kunonga didn't stop his disturbances by simply writing to the officer commanding Chikomba District to bar us from having the Shearly Cripps commemoration done by the shrine," said a spokesperson for the diocese, "but he also used the police to forcibly take church properties in Chivhu."

An Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. G. Tawonezvi, met with police in Chivhu to work-out a solution, but the commanding officer upheld Kunonga's claim to ownership of the church properties and shrine.

On July 25, police detained the Priest-in-Charge for Chivhu Church District, the Ven. Shamuyarira, at Chivhu Central Police Station for three hours in order to to force him to surrender the keys for Church properties in Chivhu, but he refused.

The following Sunday, Kunonga, a group of his supporters and seven police officers from Chivhu, arrived at Daramombe Mission before 6 a.m. and forced their way into the building by a window; Kunonga then held a service and a meeting until 1 p.m., after which they demanded the church keys from the Priest-in-Charge, Ven. Murombedzi, who also refused their demands.