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Kunonga loses Anglican property fight


New man in charge ... Bishop Gandiya being ordained as head of the Harare Diocese

19/11/2012 00:00:00
by Moses Chibaya
 
Losing fight ... Nolbert Kunonga
 
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THE ex-communicated Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga has lost a six-year battle to hang onto church property, which sometimes turned violent.

The Supreme Court, in a judgement released on Monday, dispensed of four appeals before it – and all went against Kunonga who purported to pull the Diocese of Harare out of the mother church in a row over the ordination of gay bishops.

The new head of the Anglican in Zimbabwe, Bishop Chad Gandiya, spoke to jubilant parishioners outside the Supreme Court.
 
“We waited, we have been vindicated and this is God’s doing.

“We appeal to you all not just those of the Diocese of Harare but also of our sister Diocese in Manicaland and also Masvingo and the whole Anglican Church that we be gracious in winning as well.

“You will be informed as soon as possible about when we will move into our churches, actually I can’t wait.”

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba presided over the three-judge bench that heard the arguments last month in a consolidated appeal on the four cases in which the Church of the Province of Central Africa was seeking to overturn a High Court decision recognising Kunonga and six others as the trustees of the Diocese of Harare.

Justice Omerjee AJA, who read the judgement, said: “When one leaves a club one does not take its property with him or her. It has long been established as a salutary principle of law in this area of property ownership that when one or more people secede from an existing church, they have no right to claim church property even if those who remain members of the congregation are in the minority.

"The judgment of the court a quo cannot stand. It is therefore ordered as follows:

“1. The appeal in the case of The Church of the Province of Central Africa v The Diocesan Trustees for the Diocese of Harare SC 180/09 succeeds costs.

“2. The judgment of the court a quo in case No HC 4327/08 is set aside and substituted with the following: “The application is dismissed with costs.”

“3.The appeal in the case of the Church of the Province of Central Africa v Bishop N. Kunonga and Ors SC 130/10 be and is hereby allowed with costs.

“4. The judgment of the court a quo in case No. HC 6544/07 is set aside and substituted with the following order: “The claim is granted with costs.”



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The judgement confirmed that Kunonga had left the Anglican; had ceased to be a trustee and therefore had no entitlement to the use of church property.

Advocate De Bourbon, for the Anglican, said during the appeal hearing that Kunonga resigned from the Church of the Province of Central Africa in a letter dated September 21, 2010, and the church accepted the resignation through another letter on November 16 that year.

Kunonga and his followers created a rival province called the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe that ran parallel with the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

Outside court on Monday was the human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, who said he was “elated”.

Another parishioner Kudzai Gandiya of St Michaels Mbare said she hoped the police – previously accused of favouring Kunonga – would move to enforce the Supreme Court judgement.

“We want Kunonga and his people to vacate so that we can use our churches. We want to end want they were doing turning our church buildings into brothels. We want them to move out like yesterday,” she said.

“We have been waiting for this judgment for a lengthy period.”

The feud began in 2007 when Kunonga - an avowed supporter of President Robert Mugabe - pulled out the Harare Diocese from the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) accusing the main church of promoting homosexuality.

Kunonga held on to millions of dollars worth of real estate, including worshipping halls, schools and crèches.

When the worldwide head of the Anglican church Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, visited Zimbabwe in October 2011, Kunonga's supporters marched through the streets holding banners denouncing him.


 
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