Dr Nolbert Kunonga has begun a Christmas offensive against the Diocese of Harare, using the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to disrupt services and drive off parishioners loyal to Bishop Chad Gandiya and the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Since the start of Advent the ZRP and Kunonga loyalists have disrupted services and locked out congregations across the diocese loyal to Dr Gandiya and the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA).
Dr Kunonga’s fresh campaign for control of the church in Harare is a “real test to the fragile government of National Unity,” the Rev Paul Gwese reported, “as it was at the intervention of the co-ministers of Home Affairs” that Anglicans were able to “use their churches without been disrupted by rogue police officers aligned to Kunonga.”
In an email sent to supporters dated Nov 29, Dr Gandiya recounted how the ZRP and Kunonga clergy broke up a service he was leading at St Clare’s Mission in Murewa.
Upon arriving at the mission the bishop found the church locked, and occupied by pre-school children. The “Kunonga priest” in control of the property refused to allow Dr Gandiya to worship, and left to telephone Harare for instructions.
Dr Gandiya reported that he decided to hold a service outside the church, but proceeded first to the local police station to inform them of his intentions. The police offered no objections, he said.
Upon returning to the church, the bishop found the children had left, and the congregation proceeded to move inside and to hold a service of Holy Communion. “As I was doing the thanksgiving prayer the dean noticed the police walking outside and he went out to see them and was not allowed back in the church,” the bishop wrote.
“He and the churchwarden who had accompanied us to the police were detained in one of the police vehicles. There were about 10 policemen and six of Kunonga’s priests,” the bishop said.
“Just before we distributed the communion elements the police walked in and started driving people out of the building. They also asked us to vacate the building and so we quickly and unceremoniously cleared the altar and went outside. I tried to ask why they were driving the people out of the church but they just kept doing it,” he said.
The bishop said it was “very humiliating” but he “remembered the Passion of Christ and in particular his humiliation. I said to myself this is nothing compared to what Jesus went through. They started accusing us of refusing to listen and breaking the law. Even the officer in charge who had told us to go ahead with our service joined in accusing us of not listening to advice.”
The police officer in command “continued to accuse us of breaking the law and did not want us to explain anything. He also said he would have tear-gassed us if he had wanted to and that we would not be able to appeal to anyone” because the ZRP police commissioner was “aware of what he was doing.”
Dr Gandiya asked supporters to pray for his clergy and the people of the diocese and pray “the authorities in Zimbabwe to stop the police from harassing our peaceful people who simply want worship their God without interference from the police.” religiousintelligence