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Kunonga Interviewed on Plan to Leave Province of Central Africa

A bit of dry humour from “His Disgrace” Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, in an interview for the Zimbabwe Herald. Kunonga has announced his intention to secede from the Province of Central Africa over the issue of homosexuality, despite the fact that the Province has taken a stand against it (emphasis added):

Q: How do you respond to the view that your withdrawal was strategically planned to coincide with Archbishop Malango’s retirement, particularly assertions that you want to form your own province in which you will be Archbishop?

A: Oh, it was not planned, it was not done to coincide with the retirement (of Archbishop Malango). It is not even my ambition to become the Archbishop of any province. We stand by the scriptures, we stand by the will of God, it does matter when this comes in.

It so happens that it coincides with Archbishop Malango’s retirement, but it has nothing to do with my ambitions because when deacons become bishops and bishops become archbishops, we are elected. It is a matter of power and you cannot be sure that you become archbishop in the process because elections can go anywhere. So it has nothing to do with that.

Kunonga, as I’ve blogged before, is a major beneficiary of Mugabe – in return for describing the dictator as “more merciful than God” in the run-up to the 2002 election, he was rewarded with two farms that had been appropriated by Mugabe’s militia (and which are now reportedly being mismanaged). Kunonga also boasts of baptising children “in the Zanu-PF way”. In March, Malango suggested that Kunonga might like to distance himself from Mugabe – despite the fact that the Archbishop had previously stepped in to stop a corruption prosecution against him.

So, is it the case that ecclesiastical “elections can go anywhere” in Zimbabwe? When Kunonga became Bishop in 2000, not everyone thought so:

Anglican supporters of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party were on Thursday accused of breaking church canonic law to block the election as the new Bishop of Mashonaland of a prominent white critic of Robert Mugabe’s human rights record…Supporters of the election of Timothy Neill, 47, vicar general of the diocese, want to nullify the alleged last-minute nomination on December 22 of a theologian, Reverend Norbert Kunonga…

“I have put this in the hands of lawyers. I have told Archbishop Bernard Malango that the process was a disgrace,” said Neill. “The church has to set a moral tone for the nation. If the church conducts its business in the same way that Zanu-PF does, then there is no hope.”… Kunonga, a theology lecturer at Africa University, Mutare, could not be reached on Thursday for comment but Bishop Sebastien Bakare of Bulawayo described the allegations of electoral impropriety as “very serious”. “There is no way the counting could have been rigged,” said the bishop.

Supporters of Neill said Kunonga was not among three approved, short-listed candidates put before 21 electors who met in the Zimbabwean midlands city of Gweru on December 22. They allege canonic law was breached by intense lobbying for Kunonga and by circulation of a highly defamatory letter accusing Neill, one of the short-listed three, of racism. Neill was prominent in an April 1 march by human rights activists that was attacked by ex-guerrillas while police looked on. In October, he helped launch a new pressure group demanding Mugabe’s resignation as an essential first step towards ending corruption, Zimbabwean participation in the Congo civil war, and the violence by “war veterans” that has claimed 40 lives since February…

Of course, other elections in the country have also had remarkably predictable results.

One Kunonga supporter is journalist Caesar Zvayi, the Herald’s political editor (see here for a hostile profile):

Bishop Kunonga only has two “crimes,” the first is defeating a whiteman, Timothy Neill, to head a white Church; and the second is “abusing” his position in a white church, to fight for the dignity of the blackman…Bishop Kunonga was attacked in the local opposition and western right wing media for refusing to join the bandwagon of narrow minded hypocrites who always parrot baseless claims of alleged lawlessness, land grab, corruption and so on that the western world makes about Zimbabwe.

A rather more critical assessment of Kunonga’s election and reign can be found in a recent posting to the blog Takudzwa, which is run by Masiiwa Ragies Gunda of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Zimbabwe.

4 Responses

  1. You need to get the facts straight in your article from 16 Sept 2007, it is very misleading, as you have mixed up all the names of the parties involved: “Kunonga, a theology lecturer at Africa University, Mutare, could not be reached on Thursday for comment but Bishop Sebastien Bakare of Bulawayo described the allegations of electoral impropriety as “very serious”.”
    Kungonga is not a theology lecturer at Africa University. Bakare is. Bakare is not Bishop of Bulawayo but retired Bishop of Manicaland0.

    Dangerous mix-ups.

  2. The section you are complaining about comes from a 2000 article from the South Afrian Star. I found another source which confirms that Kunonga was a lecturer at Africa University at that time. I also found a 1999 report which describes Bakare is “Bishop elect” of Manicaland, so I assume he was Bishop of Bulawayo at that point.

  3. […] than Caesar Zvayi, former editor of the Zimbabwe Herald and notorious pro-Robert Mugabe hack (see here). Zvayi has now written an account of his “ordeal”, in typical form: …the […]

  4. […] blogged on Kunonga previously; in return for describing the dictator as “more merciful than God” in the run-up to […]

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