Southern Africa archbishop tells Mugabe to end church persecution

By ENS staff
Posted Jan 4, 2012

[Episcopal News Service] The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town has called on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to put an end to persecution of the Anglican Church after state police on Jan. 3 broke up the annual prayer retreat of clergy from the Diocese of Harare.

About 80 diocesan priests were meeting at Peterhouse School in Marondera, capital of Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East province, when police intervened and halted the gathering, reportedly on the grounds that it had not received official legal clearance.

Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, called the police action shocking and deplorable.

“I call on President Mugabe to ensure that the religious freedom of all Zimbabweans, and especially persecuted Anglicans, is respected, and to instruct the police to allow the churches freedom of assembly and worship,” Makgoba said in a Jan. 4 statement.

A statement released by the Harare diocese said: “We deplore this action and call upon higher authorities to intervene. So much for freedom of religion.”

Zimbabwe’s Anglicans have faced repeated harassment and violence from Mugabe’s police force since renegade bishop Nolbert Kunonga was excommunicated by the Church of the Province of Central Africa in May 2008.

A Mugabe ally, Kunonga still claims ownership of the diocese’s Anglican churches and backs the persecution of the country’s loyal Anglicans who are routinely intimidated and prevented from worshipping in their own church buildings.

Incumbent Anglican Bishop Chad Gandiya has led the Harare diocese since May 2009.

“We affirm Bishop Chad Gandiya, his clergy and people at this time,” Makgoba said in his statement. “As they share in the sufferings of Christ, may they gain strength from the experience and never give in to a cynical and sinister government.”

Makgoba also called on “ecumenical friends and our partners in the Anglican Communion to ask their governments to put pressure on Zimbabwe to end this persecution.”

In October, Makgoba was joined by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the archbishops of Central Africa and Tanzania in meeting with Mugabe, presenting him with a dossier of abuses against the Anglican Church and calling on him to “put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behavior.”


Comments (1)

  1. Fr Magurupira says:

    It is to the best of my knowledge that any African State led by presidents for such a long time as 30 year is bound to receive the same treatment we Zimbabweans are receiving. We used to sing Mugabe as a hero in earl 80s late 80s and early 90s. Shockingly know one in the political circle thought of challenging this old man by then. Most opposition parties of that time were there in disguise of trying to portray Zimbabwe as a democratic country. Most of us will remember that opposition parties sprouted like mushrooms in dying stages of elections and disappear immediately after elections after benefiting from the money given to political parties to campaign. And Mugabe saw the loop hole and capitalized on that. He calculated everything and to make matters worse the calculation entered even in the Churches. Why? Because Ndabaningi Sithole and Abel T Muzorewa used the same idea Mugabe is using now to gunner for votes during elections. The only difference is that Kunonga and Jakazi in Manicaland have taken a step ahead and have employed the police force with Commissioner Augustine Chihuri with no choice but to do and ask his policemen to act according to their boss’s command (Kunonga). Did you know that Kunonga even threatens the commissioners and all the police force to fire them if they do not act according to his commands? Well if you did not know, then I am telling you because I am right in the thick of things. Jakazi on the 12 of March 2009 at 11:00 am around that time threatened Mutare main camp police forces with severe punishment from his boss Kunonga if they did not act according to his commands.
    Now from what Archbishop Thabo’s comment and words – not even one African State is even prepared to face BHOBHO (MUGABE) not even one i repeat , they all fear him. For the reasons best known to America and Britain, they have failed to deal with the old man yet he has gone and shouted every word he wants right in front of them in these countries. So what do we expect from the African States who are also struggling to remove their old donkeys from power. No one knows what Mugabe is benefiting from Kunonga and Jakazi. We may speculate and say he wants some shares from pax – house a church building housing most government offices or say he wants to buy some votes from Anglicans loyal to Kunonga. NO NO NO It is evident that Kunonga has no followers and has embarked on dollar for 20 ordination of untrained so called clergy from the bush, the same is Jakazi from Manicaland – who is also not properly trained any way – Jakazi is not an Anglican too. If any one knows what Mugabe is benefiting that person must tell us. But what I know is that, Mugabe as clever as he is purporting, has tried to shift attention of his hogwash ZANU-PF ministers and let them not bother him in as far as he wants to buy time (death of course). Most of his ministers are tired and are suffering from sleeping sickness and their ears are too old to hear any noise from anyone.

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