Zimbabwe: Kunonga continues to persecute Anglicans
It was hoped that the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury might have had some effect. Dr Williams provided Mugabe with a dossier of outrages and abuses he has perpetrated against Anglican dioceses over the past four years, which include ‘false imprisonment, violence, denial of access to churches, schools, clinics and mission stations’ at the behest of the excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga. Anglican leaders who refused to submit to Mr Kunonga’s authority say they have been subjected to death threats, spied on by state agents and blocked from worshiping in their churches or burying the dead in Anglican cemeteries.
Nothing has changed.
Kunonga and his allies continue to harass believers and interrupt worship in the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo. His Grace has received the following epistle, which he hopes will exhort the faithful to prayer. Pray for those who suffer, that they might find courage and strength. Pray that they might find the peace that only God can bring. Pray that their faith will not fail, but that persecution might draw them closer to Him and increase their faith. Pray also for Robert Mugabe and Nolbert Kunonga - both professing Christians - that the Lord might blind them with a revelation of Himself, that their evil will cease.
Dear His Grace (The Most Revd. Archbishop A. Chama), Lord Bishops, Clergy in the Province, Partners within the Communion and The faithful. Greetings from the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo.
We profoundly thank you for your continued support during our times of trial and persecution by opponents of the truth. we still request your unwavering support spiritually and socially so that we can overcome the attacks we are continuing to receive from Kunonga and his allies.
Attached is an account of what obtained on Sunday 27th November when the bishop and some clergy went to Daramombe Mission to Celebrate Mass with the faithful there.
God bless you for your support. Have a blessed Christmas.
For The Diocesan Information Desk-Anglican Diocese of Masvingo
EVENTS THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE FROM 31 JULY TO 30 NOVEMBER 2011
Daramombe Mission falls under Bishop Godfrey Tawonezvi of the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo but Nolbert Kunonga invaded the Mission on 31 July 2011.
On 31 July Kunonga and his supporters in the presence of ZRP officers, forced entry into the Daramombe Church. The local congregation together with their Priest, Father Muyengwa Murombedzi were barred from getting into the Church by Kunonga. Kunonga then celebrated Mass with a handful of his supporters in attendance. During the Church Service he announced to his supporters that Andrew Mugomo, one of his priests who was ordained without any training, was now the priest in charge at Daramombe Mission.
On Sunday 4 August 2011 Mugomo came to the Mission in the presence of 3 ZRP officers with police dogs. Mugomo forced entry into the Church. He then changed locks on all the doors and used the Church as his bedroom.
On 5 September Kunonga illegally evicted Father Murombedzi, School Heads of Primary and Secondary Schools, two teachers, two nurses and 3 ancillary staff from Daramombe Mission. Mugomo then took occupation of Father Murombedzi’s house. The High Court ruled that those who had been evicted be restored. Kunonga reluctantly allowed them back but has since written them letters saying that they should leave the Mission effective 1 January 2012. Copies of these letters were sent to Provincial Education Director of Mashonaland East, Mr. S.Matshaka.
Father Murombedzi who moved back to the Mission on 14 November was again illegally evicted on 29 November by the Chivhu Deputy Sheriff on Kunonga’s instructions. The Deputy Sheriff threatened Fr. Murombedzi that if he refused to move from the Mission, he would be arrested.
Mugomo and a handful of his supporters have been visiting Churches in the Chivhu area that fall under the Diocese of Masvingo locking up churches and terrorizing the faithful and clergy alleging that all Anglican Church property in Zimbabwe belongs to Kunonga.
In Chivhu Town, Kunonga supporters made several attempts to take over Church properties without success. The Priest, Archdeacon Shamuyarira and the Parishioners resisted.
The faithful at Holy Trinity Church were joined by the community and drove away Kunonga supporters who had come to forcibly take control of the Church on 6 & 13 November. Mugomo hires thugs who get drunk before they invade Churches.
Bishop Godfrey Tawonezvi led a delegation of Daramombe Mission Church Council and Church Wardens and Priests and had a meeting with Superintendent Mapuranga Officer in Charge ZRP Chivhu. The Bishop and his delegation informed the Officer In Charge, Chief Inspector Kuwakumire and one other lady officer, that Daramombe Mission congregation that had been barred by Kunonga from using their Church building would return to the Mission on Sunday 27 November. The delegation also expressed disappointment in the manner in which ZRP, Chivhu was handling issues at the Mission, ie always accompanying Kunonga and his supporters when they engage in unlawful activities at the Mission and surrounding Churches.
Superintendent Mapuranga informed the delegation to go and have audience with Chief Superintendent Tsoka, Officer commanding Chikomba. A meeting was convened and Superintendent Tsoka was in the company of Superintendent Muparadzi and Superintendent Mushawavetu. The meeting took one and a half hours. The same sentiments were expressed by Masvingo Diocese delegation. The delegation produced copies of documents that show that Diocese of Masvingo is the Responsible Authority for Daramombe Mission. Copies of the High Court Judgment/Order that was issued by Justice Bhunu [Case No. 8777/11] on 12 October 2011 were given to the Chief Superintendent. The order clearly states that Kunonga should not interfere with operations at Daramombe Mission. But Kunonga has been violating this order since 12 October by directly interfering with operations at the Mission.
Kunonga’s priest, Mugomo, who is at Daramombe Mission, illegally employed people at the High School and Clinic on 15 October 2011. He also demands groceries from the School Tuck Shop free of charge. He demands cash for pocket money and on 22 October 2011 and 19 November 2011 was given $200.00 on each occasion. He has demanded money for petrol and car repairs from the High School. When a beast is slaughtered by the School for use by boarders in the Dining Hall, Mugomo demands a share which includes the liver.
On 26 November, 2 ZRP Officers in the company of Kunonga’s priest Mugomo, went to Father Murombedzi’s house at 12 midnight. Fr. Murombedzi and 8 other Priests who had gone to Daramombe Mission to join the Bishop in the celebration of Mass the following day, were woken up and questioned why they were at the Mission and what their plans were for the following day, Sunday. The Priests had their names taken by the Police officers.
On Sunday 27 November 2011, the faithful gathered for Mass at Daramombe Mission at 8.00am. When Bishop Tawonezvi arrived at the Mission to celebrate Mass, there were 8 ZRP Officers, some of them armed. There was also a police dog. The main entrance to the church was guarded by the police. The Bishop and his faithful who numbered over 300 were denied entry by the police. Superintendent Mapuranga and Superintendent Nhando, officer In charge CID, informed the Bishop to go to Chivhu Police Station. The Bishop was accompanied by the Churchwardens of Daramombe Congregation and 3 Priests. The Bishop, Priests and Churchwardens were at the police station for 2 hours. A meeting was convened with Superintendent Mapuranga, Superintendent Nhando, and Superintendent Mushawavetu. The Bishop was denied use of the church at the Mission and he [the Bishop] opted to use the School Hall instead since the faithful wanted to attend Mass on the first Sunday in Advent.
On arrival at the Mission from the Police Station, the Bishop was denied access to the School Hall by the police officers. He then addressed the faithful outside the church at 4.30pm. He spoke words of encouragement and said that Daramombe Mission belongs to the Diocese of Masvingo. He said that Kunonga was using the issue of homosexuality as a smoke screen, yet in actual fact he wants to grab church property for personal benefit. He expressed disappointment at how the institution is being run down, including the maternity home that was built by the Mothers’ Union in 2009. He encouraged the faithful to be peaceful and vigilant and never allow their churches to be invaded by Kunonga.
Bishop Tawonezvi and Father Murombedzi have received numerous threats from Mugomo and other Kunonga supporters. While they fear for their lives they continue to be in solidarity with the faithful and always pursue peaceful ways of repossessing Daramombe Mission.