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Kunonga priests defiant

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PRIESTS loyal to excommunicated Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga were yesterday still refusing to hand over Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) properties and now face the prospect of embarrassing evictions.

Report by Our Staff Reporters

Kunonga’s loyalists were ordered to vacate the properties on Monday after the Supreme Court overturned a High Court ruling giving the Zanu PF-linked clergyman control over CPCA properties.

The Anglican Church led by Bishop Chad Gandiya had given the group five days to vacate the properties and the ultimatum expired yesterday amid indications that it was largely ignored.

CPCA’s Harare Diocese secretary Clifford Dzavo said they were now left with no choice, but to forcibly evict those resisting the peaceful transfer of the properties.

“We could conclude that it is a resistance because most of the houses are not yet vacant,” he told NewsDay.

Gandiya’s faction regained control of an estimated 80 Anglican Church buildings, nine secondary and 10 primary schools, an early learning centre and an orphanage following a bruising five-year court battle.

Harare Diocese covers Mashonaland East, West, Central and Greater Harare.

“Although we had given them a week to vacate the properties, they should have started moving,” Dzavo said.

“There are only two parishes which are now vacant, which are St Peter’s Mabelreign and St Phillip’s Guruve.

“If by tomorrow (today) they are still not yet out, it will be resistance and that will mean us taking the root of applying for eviction orders through our lawyers.

“For now, we are concerned about the residences of the priests.

“A few parishes are gaining access to the churches with no problem for their mid-week services and these are St Luke’s in Mufakose, St Mary’s Avondale, St Peter’s Mabelreign and St James’ in Norton.

“We are not much in a rush with mission schools because it is still during the school term and it is a crucial time where students write their national examinations.

“We would not want to disturb them at this moment, so we will deal with the missions when the schools close.”

Both Kunonga’s adviser Reverend Admire Chisango and lawyer Charles Nyika could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare on Wednesday, Gandiya accused Kunonga and his followers of defiling church properties by conducting immoral activities.

He said he would carry out cleansing ceremonies at all the buildings, starting with Harare Cathedral on December 16.

Gandiya also threatened to have Kunonga and his followers arrested over outstanding debts and missing property.

Meanwhile, Dzavo said investigations had established that Kunonga had not personally occupied the two official residences for the church’s bishop located in Chisipite and Greendale.

The houses, he said, were occupied by people whom they suspected to be the expelled bishop’s relatives.

“We are expecting them to move out of there quickly to give way for Bishop Gandiya,” said Dzavo.

He said they would enlist the services of the police in the event the illegal occupants resisted the evictions.

Dzavo said Kunonga’s faction had, on the strength of earlier court judgments, taken over administration of the properties including collecting fees from schools run by the church to sponsor diocesan activities.

“They were collecting school fees to fund their diocesan operations,” he said.

Kunonga fell out with the main Anglican Church after he declined to denounce President Robert Mugabe’s government’s alleged human rights abuses.

In 2008, he was officially excommunicated from the Anglican Church, stripping him of all recognition as a cleric within the global Anglican communion.

Kunonga nevertheless formed his own Province of Zimbabwe where he installed himself archbishop.

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