HARARAE – Ex-communicated clergyman Nolbert Kunonga’s efforts to involve President Robert Mugabe in his desperate attempt to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that stripped him of control of the Anglican Church properties came to nought yesterday.
Judge president George Chiweshe sealed Kunonga’s fate, declaring that the High Court cannot quash a Supreme Court ruling.
In November, the Supreme Court — the country’s highest court — ruled that the Church of the Central Province of Africa (CPCA) was the rightful owner of the Anglican Church’s vast properties and not Kunonga and his renegade outfit, the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe (ACPZ).
Kunonga, unhappy with the Supreme Court verdict that saw him evicted last week, approached the High Court seeking to stop his ouster and also hoping to regain lost properties.
A larger-than-life figure during his heyday, Kunonga concocted both political and legal tricks to get back the lucrative church properties but Chiweshe saw no merits in his appeal yesterday.
Responding to Kunonga’s High Court application filed by his lawyer Jonathan Samukange of Samukange and Venturas law firm, CPCA lawyers Raymond Moyo of Gill Godlonton and Gerrans and advocate Thabani Mpofu had argued the matter was beyond the jurisdiction of the High Court.
Justice Chiweshe concurred with arguments by CPCA attorneys.
“In the final analysis, I agree with the mother church (CPCA) that this matter is res judicata — the Supreme Court has spoken,” Chiweshe said in his ruling yesterday.
“Accordingly, I hold that I have no jurisdiction to entertain this application. For that reason I would, as I hereby do, dismiss this application with costs.”
A desperate Kunonga had sensationally claimed in his appeal that he should have control of the church on the basis that he had supported Mugabe’s populist policies such as the land grab and argued the CPCA had publicly supported the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe by western nations 10 years ago.
Kunonga had claimed he was supposed to take ownership of the Anglican Church properties riding on the indeginisation card, saying the Anglican was a foreign church and must comply with indigenisation laws that give 51 percent stake to locals.
However, Kunonga’s appeal fell flat yesterday, with Justice Chiweshe ruling that “the High Court is not the appropriate forum” to hear cases that have already been determined by a superior court.
Chiweshe’s ruling marks the end of the road for Kunonga, whose supporters since the Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago have unleashed violence against bona fide Anglicans who were reclaiming their lost properties.
Several followers of Kunonga have been arrested for public violence.
The epic battle for control of the Anglican Church started five years ago in August 2007 when Kunonga withdrew from the CPCA.
At the time, the Zanu PF-aligned clergyman falsely claimed he had pulled from the CPCA because of the latter’s support for homosexuality — prompting a protracted battle for control of one of the biggest churches in the country.
In July 2009, High Court judge Ben Hlatshwayo ruled in favour of the renegade bishop, who went on to purge the church as he installed his relatives to influential position as pastors.
Kunonga also relied on brute police force to eject Anglicans from their churches — but last week the tables turned against him as police descended on him and his hangers-on following the landmark November 19, Supreme Court ruling.
The High Court ruling marks the end of an era for a man who called himself “controversy”.
Kunonga spurned CPCA’s invitations for him to join the church, albeit as a layman.
When he was evicted by the deputy sheriff, he threatened to shoot journalists covering his ejection and then hired thugs who beat up guards — all in the hope of getting back the cathedral which is the CPCA’s bastion of power.
In his final fall from grace, Kunonga sought to invoke Mugabe’s name, but again dismally failed.