Giles Mutsekwa, one of the two Home Affairs Ministers appointed to serve in the coalition government alongside ZANU PF’s Kembo Mohadi, disclosed on Wednesday that Bishop Sebastian Bakare and Nolbert Kunonga appeared before the two ministers to answer to charges of infighting between their supporters, and to explore ways of resolving the church dispute, which has in recent months sucked in the police.
“Government is worried about the disagreements in the Anglican Church. The image of the police is beginning to be tarnished. So on Wednesday we summoned Bishop Bakare and Bishop Kunonga and we had a detailed discussion,”
Mutsekwa, the Movement for Democratic Change legislator told parliament in response to a question raised by one legislator during the weekly question and answer session.
However, Mutsekwa said the two co-ministers’ intervention had hit a brick wall after they were informed by the two church leaders of the pending court processes pertaining to the dispute.
Mutsekwa said his ministry has since ordered the Attorney-General (AG) Johannes Tomana to give his legal interpretation before any action is taken against Kunonga and Bakare.
“We ran into a snag as there are court orders and appeals. We have referred the issue to the government chief law officer to give his interpretation. We are hoping that once we have his interpretation we can give directives,” said Mutsekwa.
The police have in recent months and weeks defied a court order obtained by Bakare ordering the parishioners aligned to Bakare and Kunonga to share church premises and properties. Last weekend police barred parishioners sympathetic to Kunonga from conducting services at several churches in Harare and assaulted several of them.
But Mutsekwa said the two ministers had cautioned the police against using heavy-handed approaches against worshipers.
“We have also asked the police to restrain themselves with regards to using violence against the people,” said Mutsekwa.
Kunonga broke away from the Church of the Province of Central Africa in 2007 and created the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. The Province responded by deposing Kunonga and appointing Bakare to head the Church of the Province of Central Africa. Litigation over the control of diocesan properties ensued and last year the High Court issued an order directing Kunonga and Bakare to share the use of church facilities pending the outcome of litigation.
The controversial Kunonga has in the past vociferously defended President Robert Mugabe over his controversial policies particularly the violent seizure of white farms for redistribution to former freedom fighters and supporters loyal to ZANU PF. RadiVOP