Posted by: Titus Presler | December 25, 2009

“Alarming disturbances and developments” besiege Harare Anglicans at Christmas

Christmas in Harare is seeing a continuation of the campaign of government-sanctioned violence and intimidation against Anglicans of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, according to the Christmas Eve report received from Bp. Chad Gandiya of the Diocese of Harare.

In addition to legal skirmishing, the bishop reports that police fanned out to a number of major Harare parishes to prevent people from gathering for the normal Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.  Beatings and arrests have occurred.  The fact that a churchwarden was arrested for permitting a Saturday morning Mothers Union meeting indicates that the authorities are aware of the power of that particular lay group in the life of the church.

The role of the judiciary in this state of the conflict is significant.  Overall, courts seem currently to be favoring the legitimate Anglican diocese, which is part of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and recognized by the Anglican Communion, and standing against the pretensions of breakaway Bp. Nolbert Kunonga.  Yet it is doubtless discouraging that the order citing the police in contempt was vacated on a technicality.

Bp. Gandiya’s report follows:

Alarming Disturbances & Developments

Dear Friends,

Thank you all for praying for us. Here is a brief update about what is happening to us since my last note.

Saturday 19/12/09:

When I got to the office on Saturday morning I was told that messengers from Kunonga’s lawyers had delivered some court papers for me. I immediately called our assistant diocesan registrar Mrs. Vimbai Nyemba, who made arrangements to meet with me. Around 12 noon before Mrs. Nyemba arrived, the messengers came again with a second set of papers. We were being summoned to an emergency court hearing that same day at 4.30 pm. Kunonga’s lawyers were seeking to nullify Monday’s court ruling that cited the police for contempt of court, and they also wanted Justice Makarawu’s order rescinded that allowed for sharing of church premises for worship. Our lawyers were in court chambers from 4.30 pm until very late. Kunonga’s lawyers managed to have Mondays court ruling suspended on the grounds that since they were affected by the court ruling they should have also have been cited as respondents. They did not manage to have Justice Makarawu’s order rescinded. The parties were expected to maintain peace toward each other in the conduct of their business in parishes.

Advent IV 20/12/09:

Around 10.00am I started receiving calls from a number of parishes that were being prevented by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) from using their churches. The police were at it again! I was due to conduct a confirmation service at the Cathedral at 12.00 noon. The parishes that were prevented from using their buildings included the Cathedral, Avondale, Mabelreign, Borrowdale, Hatfield, Hatcliff, Tafara, Mbare – I am still waiting for reports from other parishes. Most of these had their services in the open air. We had our confirmation service outside the Cathedral. One of our Cathedral staff, Mr. Dangirwa, was arrested Sunday evening after having been abducted and beaten by thugs belonging to Kunonga. He was only released yesterday afternoon. One of our Churchwardens at Hatcliff, Mr. Chikumbirike, was arrested and beaten by the police and released the following day.

Christmas Eve 24/12/09:

About thirty minutes ago (2.30 pm) I received a phone call from our registrar informing me that our Churchwarden at St. Luke’s Church, Mufakose, had been arrested for opening the church building so that Mothers’ Union members could hold their normal Saturday worship and meeting. The police, I am told, are already going round our churches telling people not to come to church or else they would be arrested. We are all surprised and angered by the deteriorating situation caused mainly by the police, who are disregarding court orders and now manning our churches preventing our people from going in to worship. Since when has it become the official duty of the police to stop people from worshipping in their own church buildings?

It looks like our people are not going to be able to worship in their churches on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year. It brings home the situation that prevailed at the time of Lord’s birth. No room at the Inn! Born in a stable, worshipped by the Magi in the stable and visited by the shepherds at the stable also! Some of our people will worship the Saviour of the world neither in their churches nor in stables but in the open because of Kunonga and police action. We pray that it doesn’t rain [it is now the rainy season]. My flock is greatly harassed, battered, tired and very angry but they soldier on, keeping the faith and encouraging each other. As you celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in your churches and in peace please remember us in your intercessions. We pray and long for peace in our church.

Christ’s Peace,

+Chad Harare.

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Responses

  1. O God, for how long will this continue? O God, may Kunonga be shamed and leave the people of God to worship in peace.


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