Zimbabwe: Kunonga Barricades Cathedral to Disrupt Ceremony

Thugs hired by ousted Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, barricaded the main cathedral on Sunday in an attempt to stop a ceremony ushering in the new Bishop.

The Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) replaced Kunonga with Bishop Sebastian Bakare, after the controversial Mugabe supporter unilaterally withdrew the diocese from the main church. Kunonga has since been waging a defiance campaign with his small group of violent supporters disrupting church services around Harare. The Anglican Church was forced to abandon plans to use the cathedral and instead concluded the entire ceremony in a sports stadium one kilometre away.

Father Michael Chingore, the registrar of the diocese of Harare, told journalists; 'We were holding a communion service before the investiture and we were supposed to have gone to the cathedral, but it became apparent that we wouldn't be able to get in. We were told there were thugs. It was barricaded. The doors were locked. We didn't want to have a fight, so we stayed at the sports centre.' Kunonga's unruly mob, made up of state security operatives, had locked the doors and gates at the cathedral and are said to have threatened anyone who came close to the building.

Despite the drama thousands of Anglicans thronged the City Sports Centre and made their support for Bishop Bakare very clear. More than 15 bishops from different diocese in the country and region attended. A diplomatic Bakare avoided talking about Kunonga and compared the Harare diocese with the biblical broken walls of Jerusalem, saying the diocese needed to be rebuilt. Reports say Zanu PF member Victoria Chitepo, widow of the late nationalist Herbert Chitepo, attended Bakare's enthronement, as did retired Harare diocese Bishop Peter Hatendi.

Kunonga meanwhile is licking his wounds after High Court Judge Charles Hungwe last week threw out his application to bar Bakare and the CPCA from using Anglican property in Harare. Justice Hungwe ruled it was very clear that Kunonga's Harare diocese, 'cannot exist outside the constitution of the CPCA.' He further stressed that, 'Kunonga's diocese was nowhere near demonstrating that it has placed itself within the purview of those who confess to be Anglicans and who abide by the constitution.' The judge also said Kunonga violated the constitution of the church by breaking away from the province.