HARARE – Defrocked clergyman Nolbert Kunonga cannot “blow hot and cold” and hide behind issues like indigenisation and support for President Robert Mugabe because such claims do not have a legal basis, lawyers representing the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) have said.
Kunonga faces his waterloo today as High Court Judge George Chiweshe presides over a matter in which he wants the court to grant him permission to hold on to church properties despite a Supreme Court ruling declaring him an illegal occupant.
CPCA lawyers say Kunonga is being hoodwinked by his lawyer who is out to milk the desperate clergyman.
Responding to the controversial clergyman’s shocking claims that he should retain Anglican Church properties on the basis of indigenisation regulations and other pro-Mugabe laws and sentiments, CPCA lawyers described summons “filed on behalf of the plaintiff (Kunonga) as being bad in both fact and in law”.
“The primary relief sought in this matter is that the Plaintiff owns all churches under its control and possession including the Anglican Cathedral in Harare, but sets out no basis of fact or law,” reads the CPCA response.
In his affidavit, Michael Chingore, the CPCA registrar, blasts the disgraced clergyman for failing to respect a court order directing him to vacate the church premises.
“The applicant (Kunonga) by persisting to occupy the premises is therefore in contempt of an order of this honourable court. Applicant cannot approach this court for assistance before it purges its contempt,” read part of the affidavit.
According to the CPCA, Kunonga’s claims that the Anglican Church supported the imposition of sanctions on Mugabe “do not constitute grounds which in law entitle an entity such as the Plaintiff (Kunonga) to any claim of property properly registered in the name of or on behalf of the defendants (CPCA) at deeds office.
“It is bad at law to allege and affords no basis for the claim made that ownership can be transferred from the defendant to the plaintiff based on what is termed to be just and equitable.”
Desperate to retain the Anglican Church vast properties, Kunonga last week roped in top Harare lawyer Jonathan Samukange seeking to stop his eviction.
However, the CPCA says the matter is not urgent and “is incompetent for want of jurisdiction” since it has already been determined by the country’s highest court of appeal. Kunonga is seeking a provisional order to enable him to keep the church properties but the CPCA says he fails to “establish a clear right which is under threat”.
“In the absence of a clear right which is under threat this application fails a basic test and should be dismissed with costs,” says Chingore.
Apart from asking the High Court to dismiss Kunonga’s application with costs, CPCA lawyers say Samukange should foot his client’s bill.
“The defendant (CPCA) prays for an order that the plaintiff (Kunonga) legal practitioners must not charge fees for any work rendered to the plaintiff and if they have already done so they reimburse what they have received from the plaintiff,” the CPCA said.
Kunonga has been flip-flopping since the five-year-old standoff between his breakaway outfit called the Anglican Province of Zimbabwe (ACPZ) and the CPCA over control of the Anglican Church properties was heard by the Supreme Court last month.
During the initial hearing, he claimed to be a member of the CPCA, an argument that was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
Now he is claiming to be the Archbishop of ACPZ and argues he should grab the church using the indigenisation laws which state that all foreign companies cede 51 percent stake to locals
Raymond Moyo of Gill Godlonton and Gerrans, who is representing the CPCA, said a church cannot be indigenised since it is not owned by individuals.
“For whatever reason Dr Kunonga and his colleagues elected to secede from the Anglican Church. They must live with the consequences of their action of seceding.
“The natural consequence is that they lost any right of occupation of the respondent’s assets,” reads the CPCA affidavit.