Zimbabwe's Anglicans make difficult return to property

Anglicans in Zimbabwe have finally been able to return to their cathedral in Harare after the eviction of an excommunicated bishop.

Dr Nolbert Kunonga, a fierce supporter of Robert Mugabe, took over the cathedral and diocesan offices despite his excommunication from the Anglican Communion in 2008.

Zimbabwean courts initially upheld Kunonga's possession of the church buildings.

However, the Zimbabwean Supreme Court ruled last month that Kunonga and his followers were no longer part of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

The court order recognised the cathedral as belonging to the CPCA's Diocese of Harare.

In a letter to members of the Anglican Communion, Zimbabwean Bishop Chad Gandiya said that in spite of the court order, Kunonga "did not leave willingly".

"He refused to hand over three diocesan cars in his possession. He came back later with thugs with chains who started chasing people beating some (some of the guards we had hired were beaten)," he said.

"When our people reported it to the police they were shunted from one office to the other because the police said, 'they were too junior to deal with the Anglican matter'.

"Eventually they were served and riot police were sent who arrested some of the thugs and we are grateful for that."

Following the police intervention, members of the CPCA were able to re-take possession of the cathedral and offices.

A morning service was held by Bishop Gandiya and CPCA members despite some initial resistance by police.

Bishop Gandiya reported that evictions from some offices though had been halted.

He continued: "We don't know by who and why. These are sad developments when we were prepared to move on.

"Preparations for our Thanksgiving service on the 16 December are going on ahead as planned.

"It's not over yet. Please continue to pray for us."