ZIMBABWE – THE Supreme Court yesterday threw out five different appeals by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, leaving the court to determine the outstanding two decisive matters in his long drawn battle for control of church property with the Anglican Province of Central Africa.
Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba sitting with Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Yunus Omerjee struck the cases off the roll over the Province of Zimbabwe’s failure to comply with the rules of the court.
Cases that were thrown out include the one in which Bishop Kunonga was contesting an earlier decision by the then Judge President Rita Makarau compelling the two groups to take turns to worship in the church premises.
Another appeal was the one in which Bishop Kunonga was contesting the dismissal of his application for control of the property by High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe.
The third case involved an appeal by Bishop Elson Madoda Jakazi of the Province of Zimbabwe’s Manicaland Diocese seeking to contest the dismissal of his application for control over assets of the church in Manicaland by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu.
The Kunonga group was also appealing against the decision by Justice Susan Mavangira allowing an application for stay of execution of Justice Ben Hlatshwayo’s order by the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
They also lost another bid to quash the decision by Justice Antonia Guvava allowing the Church of the Province of Central Africa leave to execute Justice Makarau’s judgment.
Notices of appeal filed in the five cases were defective and the matters had different defects that prompted the Supreme Court to strike them off the roll.
Deputy Chief Justice Malaba reserved judgement on the two outstanding main cases in which the Church of the Province of Central Africa (Bishop Chad Gandiyafaction) is seeking to overturn the High Court’s decision recognising Bishop Kunonga and six others as the trustees of the diocese of Harare.
The two cases are set to determine the legitimate owner of the property and whether or not Kunonga left the Church of the Province of Central Province.
Justice Malaba is also expected to decide whether the defection or the withdrawal by Bishop Kunonga entitles him to the church property. During the hearing, Advocate Adrian De Bourbon and Adv Thabani Mpofu appeared for the Church of the Province of Central Africa while Mr Tawanda Kanengoni and Mr Charles Nyika represented Bishop Kunonga and the Diocesan Trustees of the Diocese of Harare.
Adv De Bourbon argued that the Province of Zimbabwe’s actions amounted to schism and that they were not entitled to any property.
He argued that the property belonged to the Church of the Province of Central Africa and that Kunonga and his faction should just leave the property to the parent church.
Adv De Bourbon said Bishop Kunonga, through a letter dated September 21, 2010, resigned from the church and the Church of the Province of Central Africa accepted the resignation through another letter of November 16.
He said Bishop Kunonga and his followers created a rival province called the Church of the Province of Zimbabwe that ran parallel with the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Adv De Bourbon said Justice Hlatshwayo’s order was wrong and that it should be dismissed with costs.
Arguing for the Bishop Kunonga group, Mr Kanengoni made a Uturn and claimed his faction was still part of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Mr Kanengoni said the only dispute was determining who should be declared the church’s bishop for the province of Harare.
He said the letters by Archbishop Kunonga and the other one by Bishop Albert Chama accepting the purported resignation were null and void.
He said the resignation was not provided for in the constitution and cannons of the church. Such a nullity, according to Mr Kanengoni, should result in the parties reverting to the original position in which Bishop Kunonga was the leader of the Diocese of Harare under the Church of the Province of Central Africa.