All Africa reports that "State sponsored violence against members of the Anglican Church reached new levels over the weekend as police in different parts of Harare gatecrashed church services and beat up parishioners loyal to new bishop Sebastian Bakare."
At the St Francis parish in Waterfalls riot police interrupted the service during 'holy communion' and told parishioners to leave. Witnesses said the parishioners assumed it was the usual police over-zealousness and some of them remained seated. The police then began beating up people, including women, in the church.
A furious Bakare said what was happening was a 'national scandal' adding, 'even Ian Smith (former Rhodesian leader) allowed us to worship.' Sources told Newsreel that the ousted Bishop and Mugabe supporter, Nolbert Kunonga, has branded new bishop Bakare an MDC supporter who is receiving money from Britain. The accusation has provided an excuse for a crackdown on Bakare's followers, with instructions being given to the police force that all parishioners loyal to him be barred from using any of the church buildings in Harare. A High Court order that divided time for church services between Bakare and Kunonga was suspended, following the granting of an appeal to Kunonga by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.
On becoming Bishop, Kunonga plunged the Anglican Church into disarray after pledging his support for Mugabe's violent land-grab policy. He targeted priests who disagreed with him by posting them to remote areas, while members of the CIO threatened some with death. An attempt by Kunonga to withdraw the Harare diocese from the Province of Central Africa backfired as the province later dismissed him. Kunonga continues to defy the dismissal and has relied on state security to beat up and intimidate his opponents.
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Monday, The Lead carried this story of African bishops calling for intervention in the Zimbabwean political situation.
Bishop Kunonga has not been invited to the Lambeth Conference.