Even before Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's troubles in the country's March 29 elections, an effort to create an independent Anglican church loyal to him had collapsed.
Support for Mugabe ally Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare and his breakaway Anglican Church of Zimbabwe has all but disappeared, with the bishop's waning control maintained by government security services.
Since his election as Harare's bishop, Kunonga has been a source of controversy within Zimbabwe and the 77-million-member Anglican Communion. Educated at Cambridge University and Northwestern University, where he earned a Ph.D., Kunonga served on the faculty of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Seminary in Barrytown, New York, before returning to Zimbabwe to seek election as bishop in 2001.
In a racially charged election that critics say was influenced by the country's secret police, Kunonga defeated the white archdeacon of Harare in the race for bishop. He proceeded to align the leading diocese of Zimbabwe's second-largest denomination with the government. About 3 percent of the country's 13 million people are Anglican.
Kunonga drove off the diocese's white Zimbabwean clergy and purged its ranks of those deemed disloyal to the regime, causing half of the African clergy to flee abroad. To fill empty pulpits, he began ordaining clergy without theological trainingincluding some members of the secret police, Zimbabwe's vice president Joseph Msika, and two government cabinet ministers.
The U.S. State Department and the European Union have banned Kunonga from entering the U.S. or Europe due to his complicity in crimes of the regime.
In August 2005 the bishop was also brought before an ecclesiastical court to face a 38-count indictment of misconduct, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more