Zimbabwe’s breakaway Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a supporter of President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union -Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party, has seized a rural orphanage housing children as young as six months old.
Kunonga, who has been excommunicated by the main Anglican Church of Central Africa and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has already taken more than half of the church’s properties in Zimbabwe, including scores of places of worship, mission schools and business centers.
Two long standing mission schools in the south of Zimbabwe were commandeered by Kunonga this week. The fee-paying schools known as Daribamombe are now under the control of Kunonga’s employees, none of whom are qualified to teach.
"The headmaster for both the high school and the primary school both were evicted by Kunonga," said Mathias Maduba, education secretary for the church’s Masvingo diocese. "The same happened also for the clinic staff except one nurse who is their ally."
According to a recent interview in the pro-Zanu PF daily newspaper The Herald, Kunonga claimed that he is permitted to take all Anglican properties in the country by terms of a High Court ruling. The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, which has 350,000 members, has appealed the judgment to the Supreme Court.
David Coltart, Movement for Democratic Change education minister in the current inclusive government of Zimbabwe, says the takeover will be investigated, as only authorities approved by the ministry are permitted to run schools.
Harare Anglican bishop Chad Gandiya said that he had gone to court this week to try and prevent Kunonga from evicting about 100 children from an Anglican orphanage about 60 kilometers northeast of the capital.
"The Shearly Cripps children’s homes at St John’s, Chikwaka, holds about 100 children whose ages range from 6-months to about 16," he said. "If the staff are evicted and the children are not, who will look after the children? The whole thing is a mess."
Bishop Gandiya added that all 30 Anglican churches in the capital have come under Kunonga’s control, leaving Harare-based followers without a place of worship.
Archbishop Williams, head of the world-wide Anglican community, plans to visit Zimbabwe to conduct open air ceremonies next month.
Kunonga was not available for comment Friday.