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Mugabe ally escalates push to control Anglican Church

Mugabe ally escalates push to control Anglican Church

The troubling saga of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has come to the attention of The New York Times.

Mr. Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, recently denounced black bishops in established churches as pawns of whites and the West, singling out for special opprobrium Catholic bishops who have “a nauseating habit of unnecessarily attacking his person,” the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.

But it is leaders of the Anglican Church, one of the country’s major denominations, who have lately faced the most sustained pressure. Nolbert Kunonga, an excommunicated Anglican bishop and staunch Mugabe ally, has escalated a drive to control thousands of Anglican churches, schools and properties across Zimbabwe and southern Africa.

“The throne is here,” declared Mr. Kunonga, who has held onto his bishopric here in the sprawling diocese of Harare through courts widely seen as partisan to Mr. Mugabe. He has also been backed by a police force answerable to the president, whom Mr. Kunonga describes as “an angel.”

Chad Gandiya, who was selected by the Anglican hierarchy in central Africa to replace Mr. Kunonga as bishop of Harare, said he was baffled by the support for Mr. Kunonga from state security services since the church that Bishop Gandiya leads is apolitical: “It’s not Kunonga we find at the church gates, it’s the police. It’s not Kunonga who drives us out, who throws tear gas at us, it’s the police. When we ask them why, they say they’re following orders.”

Perhaps someone with greater geopolitical acumen than mine can tell us whether there is anything western Anglicans or governments can do to help Bishop Gandiya. The shame of this situation is that Mr. Kunonga was protected by the former Primate of the Province of Central Africa, Bishop Bernard Melango, one of the authors of the Windsor Report.

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