From new priest to Bishop in just 17 days

On July 24 the electoral synod of the Zimbabwe diocese elected as bishop the Rev Dr Julius Makoni to succeed his deposed processor the Rt Rev Elson Jakazi. Dr Makoni’s election must now go the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) for confirmation.

An ally of the former Bishop of Harare, on Sept 23, 2007 Bishop Jakazi joined Dr Nolbert Kunonga in writing to Archbishop Bernard Malango saying their dioceses had withdrawn from Central Africa in protest to what they alleged was a pro-gay bias in the Province.

The dean of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia, responded that it “was impossible for them to withdraw the dioceses” and on Oct 19, 2007 the Central African bishops declared the two “were no longer bishops” of the CPCA.

In April 2008 the former Bishop of Harare, the Rt Rev Peter Hatendi was appointed interim bishop of Manicaland. However, Bishop Jakazi last year retracted his declaration of independence from the CPCA and had sought to block the election of a new bishop for the diocese, claiming he remained the rightful bishop. Litigation is currently underway between the CPCA and Bishop Jakazi over the trusteeship of the Manicaland church properties.

Dr Makoni was one of Zimbabwe’s leading bankers until he fled to England in 2004, after the Mugabe regime threatened to arrest him over charges of currency manipulation. Émigré newspapers at the time dismissed the charges as being motivated by political and tribal jealousies, and the government eventually dropped all charges.

Educated at St Ignatius College in Harare, Dr Makoni earned a BA and PhD in finance from Cambridge University and an MBA from London University. He worked in the City of London for Morgan Grenfell followed by eight years at the World Bank and three years at Bankers Trust before he formed his own bank, NMB Bank which was listed on the London and Zimbabwe stock exchanges.

After fleeing Zimbabwe in 2004, Dr Makoni studied for holy orders at Westcott House and was ordained a deacon in 2008 by the Bishop of Southwark on behalf of the Bishop of Harare, and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Paul Williams on July 9.

Dr Makoni is the son-in-law of Bishop Hatendi, and his father, the Rev Alban Makoni, was a priest of the Dioceses of Manicaland and Mashonaland. In 2002, death threats were made by supporters of Dr Kunonga against Dr Makoni’s wife, Pauline. A member of the chapter of the Cathedral of St Mary and All Saints in Harare, Mrs Makoni had opposed Dr Kunonga’s usurpation of authority within the diocese.