Church Says Kunonga's Close Links With Zanu-PF is Democratic Right

The Anglican Church's Justice, Peace and Reconciliation (JPR) committee last week said the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, had links with Zanu PF before he was installed in April last year.

George Wauchope, the JPR committee spokesman, was explaining the apparently strong support by Kunonga for Zanu PF and the government's violent fast-track land reform programme, even in the face of criticism by many Anglicans in and out of his diocese.

Wauchope said: "The bishop's links with Zanu PF are from the time before he became bishop."

But he said Kunonga's stance should be viewed as his democratic right as an individual.

He said it was important to separate individual opinion from that of the church.

He said: "The bishop has come out very strongly on the land issue, which we see as a matter of justice and addressing the wrongs of the past. Our stand as the Anglican Church is that it should be done transparently, peacefully and in an orderly manner."

Kunonga's pro-Zanu PF and pro-government pronouncements from the pulpit and elsewhere have alienated some members of his diocese and other Anglicans in general, who see him as condoning the violence unleashed on the people by Zanu PF in the name of land reform.

In January, Kunonga declared that President Mugabe, who has boasted of having degrees in violence, was more Christian than himself.

Wauchope said the Anglican Church was praying for a free and fair presidential election, an end to violence, and equal access to all the media for all political parties and candidates, among other things.

He expressed the JPR committee's solidarity with two Matabeleland Anglican priests, David Maroneng and Noel Scott, arrested in Bulawayo on 16 February during a public march for unity by churches.

He said: "Some unruly elements exploited the situation."

The priests were remanded to 4 March. They are being charged under the Public Order and Security Act."