Kunonga in climb-down
HARARE – Renegade Anglican Church “archbishop” Nolbert Kunonga has made a stunning climb-down, saying he is still part of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) despite publicly forming his own outfit.
Arguing before three Supreme Court judges, Luke Malaba, Vernanda Ziyambi and Yunus Omarjee, Kunonga’s lawyer Tawanda Kanengoni of Chikumbirike and Partners said the argument that Kunonga was no longer part of the church by the applicants (CPCA) was a nullity.
The CPCA, which is being represented by advocates Adrian Phillip de Bourbon and Thabani Mpofu, argues there had been a secession (schism) in the Anglican Church with two distinct formations, one led by Kunonga and the other led by archbishop of CPCA.
Kunonga, who saw five cases he had also brought to the country’s highest court crumbling yesterday, left the Anglican’s CPCA in 2007 claiming he was in disagreement with the church’s stance on homosexuality.
In 2007, Kunonga withdrew from the CPCA and founded a new independent Anglican Church of Zimbabwe, where he became the archbishop.
He was later excommunicated.
He forcibly took over church buildings, orphanages, mission schools and hospitals resulting in the Supreme Court challenge.
However, in a desperate bid to retain control of properties, Kunonga yesterday said he still submitted to the dictates of the CPCA and is a mere bishop.
CPCA lawyer De Bourbon argued the reason why the church was in court was because Kunonga walked away from the church and is now presiding over the church properties clinging to a 2009 High Court judgment which the parent church wants the superior court to overturn.
Chad Gandiya is the incumbent bishop for the diocese of Harare, a position Kunonga now claims to also hold.
Kunonga’s lawyer Kanengoni said their argument was based on two letters, one written by Kunonga declaring he is leaving the church and the other one wrote by the CPCA accepting Kunonga’s stepping down.
Kanengoni said both letters were defective as they did not adhere to the Anglican Church’s constitution.
“Having established that what was done was a nullity, the High Court found that the status of this person (Kunonga) had not changed. This province of the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe is now defunct and Kunonga is no longer an archbishop. There is no church of the province of Zimbabwe,” said Kanengoni.
Kunonga has previously said he would never recognise the CPCA and yesterday De Bourbon questioned the sincerity of the man who has kicked thousands from the church.
“Does Kunonga recognise the authority of the archbishop of the CPCA? No, he does not.
“That is the reason why we are here. That is why he wants to have his little empire.
Kunonga left the church in 2007.
These people who seceded did not return to the CPCA.
They have set themselves apart and in so doing they have no right in dealing with the church property,” argued De Bourbon.
The bench heard six cases involving the two parties and struck off five, which were appeals by Kunonga.
Judgment on the main case, involving the control of property, was reserved indefinitely.
De Bourbon told a court packed with men of the cloth that the reason for the Anglican Church schism was because of Kunonga’s anti-homosexual stance.
He also argued Kunonga cannot claim to be a member of the Anglican Church since in his court papers he is referred to as the archbishop of the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe.
The lawyer said one cannot leave a church as did Kunonga but still claim the church’s properties.
De Bourbon said Kunonga cannot be a trustee of the Anglican Church property when he left the same organisation.