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Anglican bishops fear ‘Kunonga death threats’

Tendai Zhanje

BISHOPS from the Anglican Church’s five dioceses in Zimbabwe are now living in fear after receiving death threats from a faction allegedly linked to Bishop Nolbert Kunonga.

Chad Gandiya of Harare, Ishmael Mukuwanda of Central Zimbabwe, Cleopas Lunga of Matabeleland, Godfrey Tawonezvi of Masvingo and Julius Makoni of Manicaland claimed that the faction hired assassins to eliminate them for blocking Kunonga from becoming Archbishop of the Province of Central Africa. 

Tawonezvi said two men claiming to work for the faction visited him last month and confessed that they had orders to assassinate him and the other bishops because they were a threat to Kunonga’s ambition of being ordained archbishop.

Tawonezvi said the men who declined to identify themselves approached him under the pretext of discussing problems in the Anglican Church and when he informed them that these were only prevalent in Harare, they warned him that he would bear the consequences if he continued to resist Kunonga.

“They told me that all five bishops were targeted and warned that in future some men will simply carry out their orders,” said Tawonezvi.

Gandiya said they were living in fear and they faced numerous threats and intimidation every week. He added that he has been followed by some strangers on a number of occasions and his congregation has also complained about acts of intimidation by unknown people.

“It’s the reality we live with.  Our lives are threatened,” said Gandiya.

He charged that Kunonga had voluntarily broken away from the Anglican Church which automatically disqualified him from holding any position in the church.

Kunonga dismissed the bishops’ allegations telling the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday: “Be careful of doing useless things.  If someone wants to be assassinated, they will just be assassinated. I don’t do such things. What does he (Tawonezvi) have that makes him a target of assassination?”

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been divided since Kunonga, a staunch disciple of President Robert Mugabe, in 2007 said he was pulling out of the Harare Diocese of the Church of the Province of Central Africa saying it supported homosexuality.

He has regularly blocked Gandiya and his followers from using the churches to worship.

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