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Zim Anglican church in turmoil

02 Aug 2017 at 14:08hrs | Views
Anglican Diocese of Masvingo - Godfrey Tawonezvi has called for the suspension of his Manicaland colleague over wanton suspension of priests, abuse of church funds, maladministration and corruption.

In a hard-hitting report, Tawonezvi who was in a commission that investigated a protracted conflict in the diocese on May 27 said Bishop Erick Ruwona can only be cleared by a forensic audit.

He said the severity of allegations raised against his colleague warrants that the Diocesan Standing Committee arranges for a Forensic Audit which he said should be extended to the expenditure of the loan borrowed from AgriBank and levies collected from Mission Schools.

"While this is being done, it is recommended that the Bishop goes on leave. Once the Audit report is out both parties will be summoned to a meeting by the Commissioners and the report made public. A way forward will then be recommended by the Commissioners," the report says.

The Anglican Church's most senior bishop said the church was dragging the resolution of the problems bedevilling the church by delaying on acting on the recommendations the commission of enquiry gave.

The commission was set up by Archbishop of the Church of The Province of Central Africa, the Dean of the Province who is also Bishop of Upper Shire in Malawi, Bishop Brighton Malasa, The Provincial Secretary who is also the Bishop of Eastern Zambia, Bishop William Mchombo and the Provincial Registrar, Dr. Fannuel Sumaili.

They were tasked with investigating the facts of disputes in the diocese and to submit a report and make proposals for the resolution of the disputes.

The commissioners interviewed various groups who included Concerned Anglicans, representatives of St. Agnes Parish Chikanga, and representatives of the Mothers' Union, True Anglicans, standing committee, diocesan trustees, education commission and former education secretary, clergy on suspension, the registrar and the bishop.

He said as commissioner he compiled and submitted his report and recommendations to Bishop Mchombo, the Provincial Secretary, on 2 June.  Bishop Malasa, the Provincial Dean who chaired the inquiry also submitted his recommendations but there has never been any action on the issue.

He also challenged the church to timely respond to calls by parishioners for an update on the issue.

"We are now in July and those who appeared before the Commissioners have not heard from the Commissioners or the Archbishop. Recently an e-mail was sent from Manicaland to the Archbishop, Commissioners and all Zimbabwean Bishops asking to be informed on the outcome of the Commission of inquiry.  There was neither response given nor acknowledgement of receipt of the e-mail," Tawonezvi said.

The Masvingo Bishop said he has since raised his concerns over the delays with the Provincial Secretary.

"I pointed out that there was an urgent need to resolve Manicaland issues. A delay in doing so would plunge the Diocese into further chaos. However there has been deafening silence from the Commissioners and the Archbishop.

"In view of this, I compiled this information to extricate myself from this deafening silence.  I therefore would like to voice my position by presenting my recommendations. I have compiled these recommendations without prejudice or favour. I have tried to be as objective as possible for the sake of the Church of God," Tawonezvi said.

He said there was need to look into alleged looting of nearly a million dollars from the church's Agribank account without the knowledge of the diocese's education secretary.

He also slammed a move to have a trust to manage Anglican schools for its lack of clarity.

"Deed of Trust for Diocesan Schools in Manicaland should not be implemented but instead should be referred back to the Diocesan Education Commission, Standing Committee and Trustees elected at Diocesan Synod for discussion in a more transparent manner."

The church owns St Davids Bonda, St Augustine's, St Faith, St Anne's Goto, St Matthias Tsonzo, St Mary's Magdalene, St James Zongoro and St Weighburg also adding to the long list of schools.

Average pupil enrolment for each of these schools ranges from 600 to 800.

He also recommended the suspension and further interrogation of the Diocesan Registrar.

"I recommend that the Registrar and any other persons of interest be interrogated further so that more information can be obtained in order to verify the allegations."

The report also recommended his suspension pending the probe with the deputy registrar to take over in an acting capacity.

The report said the Magada family needed to be given a chance to clear its name in light of allegations raised against them.

"It is my recommendation that the Magadas appear before the Commissioners and be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. While this is being done I recommend that the Magadas be relieved of any responsibilities at St. Agnes Parish, Chikanga and at Diocesan level. Outcome of this investigation will determine the way forward."

The report also challenged the church to reinstate the two priests - Gilbert Sambona and Taurai Mavhezha from a prolonged suspension. "Their continued suspension without following due process is not in tandem with the Constitution and Canons of the Church of The Province of Central Africa."

They were suspended for backing the concerns that were being raised by parishioners on the administration of the church's affairs.

"It is my recommendation that court cases involving St. Agnes Parishioners are withdrawn by the Bishop and Registrar who instituted these court cases and that letters of withdrawal are sent to all concerned individuals.

"The St. Agnes Parish members who were excommunicated by the Bishop should be reinstated and letters written to that effect by the Bishop to all affected members."

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