The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on Sunday strongly criticised President Robert Mugabe’s government and told thousands of cheering Anglican members in Harare not to retaliate against attacks on the church in Zimbabwe.
Although Williams’ comments have the potential of angering Mugabe and Zanu PF, it is important this issue be raised so that perpetrators of violence are brought to book.
It is also in Mugabe’s interest to meet Williams as Anglican leader. With the Archbishop’s visit, the leader of the Church of England Queen Elizabeth II has extended an olive branch to Zimbabwe, to see if Zanu PF is sincere in its calls to mend ties with its former coloniser.
Instead of Mugabe refusing to meet Williams, he might as well take that as an opportunity to mount a diplomatic offensive, and see whether the British would reciprocate. This, however, depends on whether Zanu PF is prepared to change its violent ways on opponents.
While one excommunicated former leader of the Church of England and known Zanu PF sympathiser Nolbert Kunonga has curried favour with Mugabe over his attacks on Williams’ perceived support of homosexuals, the Anglican Church, headed by Bishop Chad Gandiya, has indicated it had no political interests in Zimbabwe except that they would like everyone else to criticise injustice against citizens.
From all the public would remember, Kunonga has for long been threatening parishioners for siding with the Anglican Church leader Gandiya. One would, however, agree with Kunonga’s recent confession that he is also a criminal.
His criminality is of course confirmed by his coercing followers to demonstrate against the visiting Williams, whom he also described as a criminal.
Kunonga’s rant that the Anglican Church was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church 600 years ago, and that deemed anyone in the Anglican Church, including him and Williams, criminal does not hold water at all.
Zimbabweans have strong reasons to believe Kunonga’s group hopes to return to the main Anglican Church one day. Still we believe the door is still open for them.
Otherwise, why would Kunonga go on the warpath with the church which excommunicated him? It happened to Saul, on his way to Damascus to sin. He saw the light, repented, assumed the name of Paul and went on to write more than a third of the New Testament from his letter to the Romans.
This was the Damascene experience that spawned one of the inspired writers of the New Testament. There is no doubt that Kunonga will forever be haunted by his excommunication from the Anglican Church as well as his Zanu PF links.
Due to his political connections in Zanu PF, Kunonga has turned some of the churches he has grabbed into colleges and nursery schools while at the same time evicting members of the church aligned to Gandiya into the streets and leaving schoolchildren and orphans without teachers or care givers.
How tragic that this should be allowed to happen in a country where so many live in daily fear of attack if they fail to comply with what the powerful require of them.
There is no doubt that Zimbabweans have been victims of greed and violence. Kunonga has been itching for retaliation on Gandiya, so that he could unleash violence with impunity. Zimbabweans do not need to continue living in terror and in bloodshed.
It is our contention that Kunonga could have learnt a thing or two from the Anglican Church of Central Africa gathering on Sunday. Kunonga had on Sunday his equivalent of the Damascus experience. Although he had deployed his surrogates to disrupt the Eucharist, it is our hope that he will see sense and turn away from his violent nature.