The commercialisation of the Anglican Church properties taken over by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga has been extended to the Anglican Cathedral in Harare, a massive stone structure which is the main church property in the country.
The cathedral is housing more than three colleges. This development comes as a large percentage of the churches taken over by Kunonga were doubling up as business centres or learning institutions, infuriating members of the denomination who believe their centres of worship are being soiled.
A private college, International College, is one of the learning centres housed at the Anglican Cathedral and offers academic subjects from Form One to Form Six. It has been operating there since last year.
International College is also sub-letting the place to another college that offers professional courses for students who come in the evening.
One of the administrators of International College said it was an arrangement they entered into with the church to use their facilities and revealed the college was doing well.
The college has been dishing out flyers in the streets of Harare to attract students, boasting that its students have the opportunity of writing Cambridge examinations and those run by the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council.
The flyers give the venue of the college as the Anglican Cathedral, situated at the corner of Nelson Mandela Avenue and Sam Nujoma Street next to Parliament Building.
The college claims to have experienced tutorial staff and to offer affordable fees.
Last week, NewsDay exposed that Kunonga, who broke away from the Anglican Church Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in 2007 and formed the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe in January 2008, was misusing church buildings and turning them into shops and colleges.
He is being accused of using the temples for “earthly” activities, leaving more than 10 000 people affiliated to the CPCA, led by Bishop Chad Gandiya, without a place of worship.
Kunonga broke away from the main Anglican Church in protest against alleged tolerance of homosexuality by Anglicans in the United Kingdom and the United States.
At St Paul’s Church in Highfield, there is a crèche and a college, Joephy Learning Centre, operating from the premises which charges pupils $15 per month.
The college offers classes from Form One to Ordinary Level.
St Andrew’s Church in Glen View, a private college, Hitmarks, is operating and is offering lessons up to Advanced Level.
Pupils are paying $65 per term or $30 a month while the church building is itself being used as a reception for the college.
In Kambuzuma, a big board carrying the name Anglican Church has been removed and has been replaced by one boldly inscripted “Arch Academy”.
The church office there is now a reception and registration centre while preparations are being made to turn the church itself into a giant classroom which, according to a member of the church whom we found at the premises, is expected to hold classes up to “A” Level.
The college is expected to start operating on January 3, but the principal and a recruiting officer are already operating from the building.
Officials at the college said chalk boards would be put in the church for pupils to learn while desks would also be moved in “to ensure that church property is not destroyed”.
According to a dossier from the main Anglican Church, St Peter’s Church in Bindura has been turned into a phone shop while St Peter’s Church, Dombotombo, in Marondera, has been turned into a sewing shop.
Several churches in Harare and surrounding areas are reportedly being rented out to tenants.
St James’ Church in Warren Park and St Columbus’ Church in Kuwadzana now accommodate pre-schools and colleges.
Learning institutions have also been established at St Aidan Church (Seke), All Saints’ Church (Seke), St Andrew’s (Glen View), St Philip’s (Tafara), St James’ (Mabvuku), St Martin’s (Hatfield), St Francis (Glen Norah) and St Monica Church in Seke are also said to have learning institutions.
St Michael’s Church in Mbare is reportedly being hired by other denominations, while at St Joseph’s in Dzivaresekwa, St Peter’s in Mabelreign and St Mary’s in Chitungwiza now run as colleges.
Several churches in Harare, among them St Mary in Highlands, St Christopher in Rugare and St Mary’s Church in Cranborne, are locked. Officials at the church premises refused to comment but chose to accuse the NewsDay of working with other church faction that was an extension of the MDC-T.