Zimbabwean bishop asks: Who will hear our plight?

From Bishop Chad Gandiya of Zimbabwe via Anglican Information and New Zimbabwe.

Police repression of the Anglican Church intensifies

Dear Friends,

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. Easter tide greetings to you. We trust your Easter celebrations went well. Thank you for all your prayer support for us. We write this letter to bring you up-to-date with what is happening in our church.

Some of you are aware that Vice President Honourable John Nkomo together with Honourable Ministers Sekai Holland and Gibson Sibanda all members of the Organ for National Healing Reconciliation and Integration were tasked by Cabinet to mediate between us (Diocese of Harare CPCA) and Dr. Kunonga’s Anglican Province of Zimbabwe. Those talks are going on.

We continue to be amazed that while these talks have begun and Cabinet’s wish and message to us to worship in peace, the very opposite is happening. Our experience over the last two weeks is that the persecution seems to have intensified. Police are openly telling our people to attend Dr. Kunonga’s services only and continue to prohibit them from worshipping in their churches as per Judge President Makarawu’s judgment and Justice Bhunu’s judgment of the

3rd March 2010. The former allowed for sharing of church buildings for worship until the courts give their final judgment on the matter and the latter endorsed that judgment. Whereas in the past some of our congregations used to hold their services outside of their church buildings, the police are driving them away telling them that they cannot meet outside anywhere near the church buildings.

We are completely baffled by the behavior of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in this matter. We have persistently asked why they are being used to prop up Dr. Kunonga by actively telling people that our church properties belong to him and therefore our members should attend his Church services only. Nobody has given us any answers.

We continue to raise our grave concern over the police partisan involvement in the affairs of our church, abuse of our rights and disregard of Court Orders and Rulings.

We also continue to ask; Who will police the police?

Have they officially become a law unto themselves?

To whom can we turn for help?

Who will listen to our plight?

(For details, click Read more.)

Last Sunday 11/04/2010

1. Police went to St. Mark’s Church, Ruwa and drove our members away from

both the church and church premises. When the congregation decided to meet at

the priest’s house the police prohibited them from doing so. What right do they

have to stop even this? The priest of this church received a text message from

Kunonga’s priest telling him not to use the church or else “what they did at St.

Faith’s Church, Budiriro will happen to them”. St. Faith’s Church, Budiriro is

where riot police tear-gassed our people on a Sunday morning and then followed

it up on a Thursday afternoon with tear-gassing Mother’s Union members who were

worshipping away from the church in the open air. This is further proof of that

Dr. Kunonga’s priests are working in cahoots with the police.

2. Our Cathedral congregation was told by the police not to meet anywhere

near the Cathedral next week or else they will face the wrath of the police.

3. At Holy Trinity Church, Ruwa acting Officer-in-Charge assistant

Inspector Ngoshi and Sergeant Major Chibaya force number 044621A drove our

congregation out telling them that they had orders to stop their service because

they were to leave the Church to Kunonga’s group even though he hasn’t got a

single member in that area.

4. At St. Alban’s Church, Chiweshe where I had gone for a Confirmation

Service- the church doors were welded from inside and so we could not go in as

we had intended. We only managed to remove a pin on one of the hinges but could

not go in. As a result we had our service in the open air. Rev’d. Mangava,

Kunonga’s resident priest/untrained teacher called the police telling them that

we had broken into the church. Police arrived just before the end of our service

only to find a pin that had been removed and nothing broken. For that, about six

people including the two priests who were with me had to go to Glendale police

station to give evidence – a process that took forever. I followed them. No

charges were brought against them but we reported the damage that was caused to

our church building by the welding of doors and other devices used to prevent us

from going in. We await a court hearing. What’s amazing is the ease with which

even Dr. Kunonga’s priests call the police, tell them what to do and how they

in turn easily comply.

5. A number of our congregations are using other denominations church

buildings (we are very grateful for their generosity) while some use school

buildings and others continue to meet in the open air.

Thank you for your messages of solidarity and assurances of your prayer

support. We don’t lose heart in spite of all the challenges we are facing.

He is risen indeed – Halleluiah!

+Chad, Harare.

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