Anglicans in Zimbabwe have resolved to hold a street prayer protest in central Harare to press the police to allow the church access to its buildings across the capital. The parishes have invited President Mugabe, a Catholic, to the prayer session.
The Anglicans have been embroiled in power struggle to control the church and the dispute has spilled to the courts but the fight continues to escalate.
Former Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a staunch Zanu PF supporter is believed to be behind the chaos. And although Bishop Chad Nicholas Gandiya is the rightful head of the church, Nolbert Kunonga, who refuses to cede physical control of Anglican churches, is believed to have called in police to tear-gas worshippers out of church buildings on several occasions.
Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), a supreme authority of Anglican church in the region has seen its orders defied by Kunonga
to surrender church property.
“The church resolved to hold the open prayer to force the police to abide by the court ruling,” the church announced on Sunday. “The President [Mugabe] has been invited and his is aware. Initially it was felt that we hold a protest march, but this was later shelved as the diocese opted for an open prayer session.”
It is still not clear whether Mugabe would attend or whether police have sanctioned the open prayer session.
The protest prayer comes after co-Home Affairs minister, Giles Mutseyekwa announced that he was planning to meet Harare police commanders to discuss the Anglican issue.
A High Court judge ordered Gandiya and Kunonga and their followers to share use of church buildings for prayers. But Kunonga’s group is accused of locking up church doors every Sunday to prevent their rivals from entering the buildings to hold prayers, while the police have been on hand to chase away Gandiya’s followers every time they tried to insist on their right to use the churches.
Kunonga was excommunicated in 2008 after trying to withdraw the Harare
diocese from the Anglican church. He claimed at the time he was protecting the diocese from ‘rampant homosexuality’ and ordination of gay priests.
A staunch supporter of Mugabe who tried to use the pulpit to defend the Zimbabwean leader’s controversial policies, Kunonga was excommunicated together with several priests and other church leaders who backed his revolt against the CPCA.