There was chaos on Sunday at Harare’s troubled Anglican Church as armed police stopped all services throughout the city.
from our correspondent in Harare
This is in sharp defiance of a Supreme Court order.
Police moved into the gardens of Anglican churches around the city from early morning and senior officers telephoned priests and warned them not to try and hold services.
Two weeks ago the usually pro government Supreme Court of Zimbabwe dismissed an application by notorious Nolbert Kunonga, the former Bishop of Harare, to take control all Harare’s 58 Anglican churches.
Kunonga, who is an avid supporter of Robert Mugabe and was
given a 1600 acre white-owned farm in 2003, was sacked by the Church of the Province of Central Africa last November.
The city’s Anglican community openly support Bishop Sebastian Bakare who was brought out of retirement to replace Kunonga as Bishop of Harare.
Shortly after Zanu PF and Mr Mugabe lost elections on March 29, the police and intelligence operatives began harassing priests and communities.
A week ago scores were beaten up during a service in St Francis Church, in Waterfalls suburb.
This week the police have taken over the remainder of Harare’s Anglican churches.
“The police telephoned us early in the morning and told us not to hold a service today,” said a priest from one of the city’s oldest churches in the southern part of the city.
“Some of our congregation were beaten up the previous Sunday, so after the phone call I drove around the church and saw many armed policemen there so we cannot worship there today. There are too many women and children in the congregation, we can’t expose them to this danger.
Bishop Bakare said he will ask other religious leaders in Harare to lend their churches from next Sunday and they are looking at option of suing the commissioner of police, Augustine Chihuri.
This is to allow congregations to worship . We will also sue the commissioner of police next week.
In condemning the actions by police and highlighting their abuses he said “These (High Court) orders do not give any right to the police to interfere in the civil disputes in the Church affairs before the Court.
Regrettably, all the Court orders are being disregarded by some individuals who give “orders from above”
He says the police are supposed to be the custodians of the law, but what they are experiencing as the Diocese of Harare proves “that they have become a law unto themselves by accepting orders from above,”
Police are supposed to uphold, protect the people of Zimbabwe and their properties without fear or favour and not to disobey court orders, he added.
“This Godless behaviour displayed by the police officers of pulling up people who are in prayer and worship is not a true reflection of levels of lawlessness in Zimbabwe or in the force – but in individual police officers.
“What we are experiencing in the Diocese of Harare CPCA indicates that Police do not only refuse to obey court orders but also show their unacceptable bias,” Bishop Bakare added
The Anglican Church community split when Kunonga accused Anglicans worldwide of promoting homosexuality. It was on this pretext that he claimed to have taken Zimbabwe’s Anglicans out of the province of Central Africa and formed the Zimbabwe province.
He ordained dozens of “priests” in a hurry and the High Court then ordered him to share Anglican facilities and assets with Bishop Bakare.
He appealed this to the Supreme Court and lost. “Since the elections the pressure has been on and Anglican priests and
communities are being questioned by intelligence people. We are accused of supporting the MDC,” a priest said on Sunday.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change won the parliamentary election and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, defeated Mr Mugabe in the presidential poll. But official results said he failed to win more than 50 percent and so
a second round will be held on June 27.
Zimbabwe’s only Anglican cathedral St Mary’s and All Saints in central Harare is kept locked 24 hours a day and is used