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Politicization of Anglican Church in Zimbabwe

Politics has reared its ugly head in the Faith sphere again.

The Archbishops of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and the Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, have spoken out over Zimbabwe's security forces' targeting church-goers in a violent campaign against the political opposition.

Three weeks ago they began seriously intimidating churchgoers. There is no neutral ground in Zimbabwe politics. Not even the Church can stay neutral.

Mugabe has left no area in his sad country alone. Even the Anglican Church has been manipulated to divide the people of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe is a tyrant, worse than, Saddam Hussein. The suffering of his people means nothing to him in his megalomaniac urge to rule whatever the cost to his people. Outside of a shrinking sphere of African states, he has lost all credence.

Once Zimbabwe was an example of education in the third world, and called the “bread basket” with its thriving agricultural sector. Mugabe's virulent racist hatred had brought his country to a “basket case” state, with the majority of his people starving and unemployed. The country is now near the bottom of the list in education, with many teachers afraid to teach because of intimidation by Mugabe's thugs.

When the economy had deteriorated to the level where the informal sector was the only viable part of the economy, Mugabe's police and army bulldozed the capital's informal sector and chased them away. Other towns suffered the same insane destruction.

Last year, Zimbabwe's Anglican Communion split, as Bishop Nolbert Kunonga was dismissed by the Anglican Church's regional leadership for his support for Robert Mugabe. Bishop Kunonga was an unashamed supporter of Mugabe, even calling him a ‘prophet of God’. The Anglican Church has taken a clear stand in condemning the Zimbabwe president, and Bishop Sebastian Bakare, was ordained in Bishop Kunoga’s place.

Ex-Bishop Kunonga refused to accept his dismissal, and like his mentor, tries to cling to his power. There are a number of other similarities between Kunonga and Mugabe. Both deny the reality of Mugabe’s responsibility, and blame the outside world. Mugabe blames Britain for his country’s economic situation, and Kunoga blames the world Anglican communion’s support for gay rights, as the reason he is being ‘persecuted’. The two shares a pet hate for homosexuals. He claims those in favour of ordaining gay priests are funding his rivals to gain support for their position in Africa. The claim is patently absurd, as there is no unity in the world Anglican communion, and especially in the various African Anglican communions (apart from the South African), who share his opposition to the ordination of homosexual priests.

All tyrants impose their will in all spheres of their societies, by placing stooges in leading positions. In Kunonga's case, he was manoeuvred to prevent the Anglican Church criticizing Mugabe's human rights abuses.

The Anglican Communion in Zimbabwe, has subsequently split into two factions. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party's young thugs attend church services, which is quite intimidating, or attack the Anglican Communion's services. One lady was beaten as she knelt to receive Holy Communion. The police and the state security apparatus have also been involved, either monitoring services, or interfering in the name of ‘law and order’.

Following the split, the High Court ruled that the two factions should share the church's property and hold Sunday services at different times.

The mood at the church varies according to which groups holds the service. The attendance for Bishop Kunonga is boosted by members of the pro-Mugabe militia, the state-run National Youth Service, known as the ‘Green Bombers’.

In February, the Deputy Sheriff had to break in to the cathedral after followers of Bishop Kunonga defied a court order and barred their rivals from using the church to conduct their service.

Anglicans who follow Bishop Bakare are prevented from worship in the Cathedral in Harare and elsewhere.

In Harare, the majority of the congregation backs Bishop Bakare, while Bishop Kunonga is backed by the state and the ‘Green Bombers’ Mugabe thugs.

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