By John Chimunhu|
The United States government has condemned Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe’s regime for its support of violent and disruptive former Anglican church bishop Nolbert Kunonga in the ongoing battle for control of the church.
The damning assessment is contained in the US government’s latest International Religious Freedom Report issued by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor last week.
“The government continued to favor Nolbert Kunonga, the Zanu PF-affiliated, former Anglican bishop of Harare, who formed the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe in 2007,” says the report.
“After Nolbert Kunonga created the CPZ, the CPCA (Church of the Province of Central Africa) excommunicated him from the Anglican Communion. Police began disrupting Anglican services and detaining parishioners in January 2008 after the CPCA appointed Reverend (Sebastian) Bakare. Police and Kunonga supporters prevented Bakare from conducting services in several churches and harassed Bakare supporters.”
The report provides a shocking dossier of abuse of Anglican church members by the police aiding Kunonga. CPCA members were shot, teargassed, arrested, barred and driven out of church buildings in the middle of church services and prayers, while many were forced to worship under trees.
“The government arrested, harassed and prevented church attendance by Anglican clergy and parishioners from the CPCA, the regional body of the Anglican Communion. Police continued to disrupt Anglican church services and strike worshippers, primarily women, with batons. They arrested parishioners, interrogated priests and lay leaders, and locked the doors of churches to keep worshippers away,” the report said.
Among the incidences cited in the report is the forcible removal by police and Kunonga priests of the headmaster, his deputy and bursar of Makumbe Mission, an Anglican high school in Mashonaland East.
“Community members protested the takeover and reported that the new head and bursar are taking the students school fees and using them to purchase personal vehicles,” the US government report said.
In one bizarre case, Kunonga supporters blocked Anglicans from burying the dead at a church cemetery in Chitungwiza.
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