Zim Anglican Priest Arrested

In a case that further shows the escalating fights for the control of the congregation, Zimbudzana, who belongs to a faction, led by Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Harare, in the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), Nicholas Gandiya, is accused of stealing property worth over US$1, 5 million.

The faction has since 2007 been embroiled in a bitter wrangle against the Nolbert Kunonga camp which wants total control of the church. Gandiya said the charge was frivolous, accusing Kunonga of masterminding the arrest.

“That is unfounded, baseless and without foundation; this is very strange indeed as no parish in our diocese (perhaps the exception of the Cathedral Parish) has properties worth that much. He has been refused bail and the police claim they have clear instructions not to release him,” said Gandiya.

“What has become apparent in these attacks is that rogue elements within the police are listening to instructions coming from Kunonga to use the law to abuse innocent people, denying them of their right to worship.”

However both Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena and the police spokesperson, Andrew Phiri could not be reached for comment.

In August this year, Kunonga was excommunicated by the Anglican Church after trying to unilaterally withdraw the Harare Diocese from the Central African Province on the flimsy excuse that the province supported homosexuality

Zimbudzana was arrested on Tuesday morning and is only allowed to see visitors at night.

Gandiya alleges the police had some property which they claimed was exhibit.

“They (the police) then brought a desk, a refrigerator that they claimed belonged to the church, and a Mothers’ Union (MU) banner. They are desperate for a conviction (vari kuedza kutsvagiridza nyaya). It looks like they just want to keep him detained as part of the harassment showing the clear breakdown of the rule of law,” said Gandiya.

Reverend Zimbudzana’s arrest comes in the wake of the 4 August 2011 ruling by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku in his Chambers in which he ruled that all Anglican properties in the Diocese of Harare were under the custody of Kunonga. At the same time, Chidyausiku allowed an appeal by the CPCA against this determination to stand, but went on to  refuse this appeal to suspend an earlier judgement by High Court Justice Hlatshwayo, a normal judicial and legal practice the world over.

CPCA lawyers are busy trying to secure the release of Reverend Zimbudzana and ensure other clergymen are free from further persecution. The right of worship as enshrined in the Country’s Constitution has been violated and the CPCA calls on the national political leadership to immediately intervene and put a stop to Kunonga’s abuse of the police services.