Zimbabwe’s deposed Bishop Nolbert Kunonga is still defiant even after Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams visited his country and handed President Robert Mugabe a dossier filled with accounts of human rights abuses perpetrated by Kunonga with government help.
The Mail & Guardian online desribes the situation in detail:
The pews are often virtually empty on Sunday mornings at Harare’s St Mary’s and All Saints Anglican cathedrals, but this is Bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s “throne” and he is prepared to defend it with violence.
After a service attended by a few followers last Sunday, Kunonga, the priest who has divided the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe and set disciples on rival clergymen, stood in front of his pulpit and raved against gays and Rowan Williams, the visiting archbishop of Canterbury. “This is my throne,” he declared. “I am in charge. He [Williams] cannot come here.”
Kunonga regards the cathedral as a prized asset among hundreds of church properties he has taken over in a fight that has demonstrated the impunity enjoyed by President Robert Mugabe’s allies.
Excommunicated in 2007, Kunonga is fighting for control of the Anglican Church, seizing assets and barring worshippers from churches. A dossier on the dispute presented to Mugabe this week claimed that at least one parishioner, Jessica Mandeya, might have been killed in attacks by Kunonga’s followers.
Kunonga preaches a blend of homophobia, racism and anti-colonialist rhetoric in support of Mugabe’s strategy to use the churches of Zimbabwe as a tool to maintain power. In particular he uses violent anti-homosexual rhetoric as a cover for the violence and abuse perpretrated against all the people.
On Monday Williams handed Mugabe a dossier giving details of Kunonga’s campaign. It said that police had “disrupted church services and used tear gas and batons to drive people out of church buildings”….
…Kunonga denied the dossier’s charges and said he would continue the fight “as long as the archbishop of Canterbury remains homosexual”.
The large crowd attending Williams’s mass contrasted sharply with Kunonga’s small congregation, but he remained defiant.
“Williams’s coming here will not make them get in the church buildings. We are the ones here in the cathedral; they are meeting at the sports centre.
“I am the owner of all this. Gandiya is showing off with a white man and I do not care. This is not the end of Kunonga.”