Anglicans Resist Kunonga's Bid to Consolidate Powers

THE chancellor of the Anglican Church's Harare diocese, Robert Stumbles, has urged the church's congregation to block attempts by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga to amend the diocesan Acts at the next Synod meeting scheduled for 5 September.

Stumbles, who is a renowned lawyer, says the proposed amendments would create a dictatorship within the church structures.

The letter comes at a time when relations between Kunonga and the majority of Anglican parishioners have been severely strained.

Kunonga, a fortnight ago, sent out to parishioners the proposed amendments that some within his flock believe would grant the bishop powers to ban, dismiss, remove or transfer priests without approval from other church structures.

Stumbles wrote in a letter he has distributed to Anglicans in Harare: "What the Bishop and his advisers are proposing may be right in their own eyes and for their own purposes, but it is submitted that it is disastrous for the Church, contrary to democratic laws and does not achieve what is best for one another and all those around the Diocese."

Kunonga, who has clashed with parishioners since becoming bishop in 2001, could not be reached for comment on the matter.

Kunonga suspended Stumbles as chancellor of the Anglican Church in Harare last June, but the lawyer has challenged the suspension in court.

According to Stumbles, if the proposed amendments are passed they would "thrust much more power and control into the hands of the Bishop and deprive others of rights to which they are presently entitled. The bishop is anxious to have these changes adopted".

The amendments also seek to authorise church wardens and members of the church council to prevent "demonstrations, disturbances and strikes against the incumbent, church leadership and administration".

Some Anglican parishioners have on several occasions staged demonstrations against Kunonga over his management of the diocese.