As the Harare Anglican Church diocese saga continues to unravel, fired Bishop Nolbert Kunonga has reportedly set up residence at the cathedral in the capital and locked up the church’s doors to bar acting vicar general Sebastian Bakare from carrying out his duties. The move by Kunonga, sources said, was in defiance of High Court orders stopping him from interfering with Bakare’s activities. Bakare is also the acting bishop of Harare. The sources said since Sunday, Kunonga, his wife and a group of over 40 people believed to be members of the national youth service had been staying at the cathedral. Kunonga is alleged to have used the militia to block Bakare’s followers from holding a service at the church on Sunday afternoon. The youths reportedly assaulted members of the congregation. Reverend Christopher Tapera, the acting diocesan secretary and Bakare’s spokesperson, yesterday confirmed the incident to the Zimbabwe Independent in a telephone interview. “We were meant to have a church service at 12.30 (hrs) at the cathedral in line with the judge president’s (Rita Makarau) judgement, but Kunonga locked up the church,” said Tapera.
He said Bakare’s followers then went ahead with their service outside the church and this did not go well with Kunonga and the youth militia. “Kunonga sent his thugs to grab a camera from a young man who was recording the service and this disrupted the service as his parents tried to protect their son from the thugs,” he said. “The thugs ended up assaulting some of the followers.” Bakare’s spokesman claimed that the disturbances took place in the presence of the police who did not do anything to stop Kanonga’s thugs from assaulting members of the congregation. “We phoned Superintendent (Isaac) Tayengwa who then sent constables from the Law and Order section, but when they arrived the thugs disappeared,” Tapera said. Tapera said he was shocked by the behaviour of the police who did not arrest Kunonga for setting up residence at the cathedral. “Kunonga has defied all three judgements at hand on the case and I have personally taken the judgements to the police but they are reluctant to arrest him,” Tapera claimed. A parishioner at the church who spoke to the Independent said youths barricaded the main cathedral to stop a service which was supposed to be led by a priest aligned to Bakare. “Less than 10 people attended Kunonga’s 7 am service yet more than 60 followers turned up for the 1230 (hrs) service which was to be conducted by a priest from Bakare’s side,” the parishioner said.