Kunonga in $640 000 scandal
HARARE – Renegade Anglican bishop and prominent supporter of President Robert Mugabe, the ex-communicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, is in trouble following legal moves to force him to return cash and shares seized during his five-year illegal control of the church.
Lawyers for the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) have written to Kunonga demanding the return of cash and share certificates worth $641 000 held by Imara Asset Management Zimbabwe (Private) Limited that were seized by ex-communicated Kunonga.
Imara Asset Management is one of the largest institutional funds managers in Zimbabwe, with clients including blue-chip retirement funds, high net-worth individuals and corporates.
Raymond Moyo of Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans told the Daily News yesterday that the financial institution held “certain accounts and investments on behalf of the CPCA.”
The Bishop Chad Gandhiya-led CPCA, through lawyers Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans legal practitioners, has written to Kunonga demanding payment of $641 560 for investments seized by the disgraced clergyman.
“Our instructions are that sometime in the period of August 2011 to September 2011 and without our client’s consent and knowledge you accessed and realised its investments valued in the amount of US$641 560.00 held with Imara Asset management Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd,” said the letter to Kunonga seen by the Daily News.
“It is common cause that the said investments were our client’s property. The Supreme Court confirmed this in its judgement in the matter SC180/90.”
In the landmark November 19, 2012 Supreme Court judgment, Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba ordered Kunonga to hand back all church assets because they withdrew their membership from the CPCA and resigned as bishop and trustees, thereby relinquishing the right to control CPCA property in the diocese.
“They left it, putting themselves beyond its ecclesiastical jurisdiction,” Malaba said in his judgment.
That ruling quashed a High Court decision that gave Kunonga control of all church hospitals, orphanages and schools and allowed more than two million evicted Anglicans to return to their parishes to celebrate Mass after they were banished to worshiping in parks, private schools and halls.
After the Supreme Court judgement, Kunonga went to the High Court in an attempt to avoid the consequences of the Supreme Court decision, seeking a court order stopping the evictions and another court order that Anglican Church property is owned by Kunonga’s new Church of the Province of Zimbabwe and that the church was not part of the Supreme Court challenge which was lodged by the Diocesan Trustees for the Diocese of Harare – meaning Kunonga and his fellow former trustees, not his church.
After hearing arguments in the High Court chambers, the judge president on December 10 dismissed the application to stop the evictions with costs, leading to a dramatic eviction of the recalcitrant bishop.
In the latest demand, CPCA demands payment of $641 560 by May 24, 2013, and warns that it will file in the High Court a claim for the full return of the cash and certificates.
“In the circumstances we have been instructed to demand from you (Kunonga) and your colleagues namely Mr Majokwere, Tome, Gatawa, Gundu, Nyazika and Shamuyarira jointly and severally, the one paying the other to be absolved payment of the value of the said investments in the amount of $641 560,” said the letter.
“Each and one of you is personally liable for this amount. We demand that this amount be paid in full at our offices before end of day on Friday the 24th of May 2013.”
The letter from the lawyer is focused on returning the cash and share certificates to the mission and ministry of the Anglican Church.
“You can return the relevant share certificates in reduction of this liability,” the letter says.
“In the event that we do not receive such payment and or receive the share certificates and you do not male acceptable arrangements for the settlement of the same we will issue court process without further notice top you.”
Kunonga is yet to respond to the legal action, according to CPCA lawyer Moyo.
The CPCA alleges that Kunonga looted the church properties during his controversial reign and a cursory inventory revealed that the renegade bishop was not even settling utility bills. – Gift Phiri, Political Editor