Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter—
Ex-communicated bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga will have to pay the Anglican Church $427 000 as compensation for shares he sold after he led the church into a schism in 2007.This comes after the Supreme Court yesterday upheld an earlier judgment ordering him to do so.
The shares were owned by the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in various firms and by command of the law, the decision of the Supreme Court is final and binding on all subordinate courts.
Dr Kunonga is the former Anglican bishop and head of the Diocese of Harare CPCA.
The Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision ordering him and his allies to pay $427 892, plus interest and court costs to the Diocese of Harare.
Justice Paddington Garwe threw out Dr Kunonga’s contention that the shares were sold to meet the costs of running the affairs of the church.
He found that the assets had not been used for the benefit of CPCA, but in furtherance of the interests of the new church Dr Kunonga and his allies had formed.
“I am satisfied that no proper basis has been given to impugn the judgment of the court a quo,” said Justice Garwe.
“The appeal must therefore fail. It is accordingly ordered . . . the appeal be and is hereby dismissed with costs.”
Dr Kunonga, who was represented by Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, argued that two previous High Court orders granted him the right to use the property, as such this should have finally disposed of the appeal.
But Justice Garwe said the superior court was aware of the two orders when it made the ultimate finding that Dr Kunonga and his co-trustees had no right to continue possessing the church assets and to dispose of them once they had withdrawn from the CPCA.
“The submission, in my view, is intended to circumvent the decision of this court,” he said. “That is not proper and cannot be done. The submission must fail.”
Justice Garwe noted that most grounds of appeal in the matter were fatally defective and struck them down.
In his appeal, Dr Kunonga sought to set aside the entire High Court decision.
Justice Garwe objected to that, saying it was only Dr Kunonga out of five persons against whom the judgement was entered in the lower court.
The judgement entered against the other four was a default judgement, all of them having failed to attend trial.
Justice Garwe agreed with CPCA lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu that Dr Kunonga could only appeal against that part of the judgement that affected him.
In 2013, the Supreme Court resolved the dispute in the Anglican Church pitting the CPCA and diocesan trustees, Harare province under case Number SC48.12.
In that judgement, the court made findings that Dr Kunonga and other trustees formed a new church in January 2008 and the former bishop was consecrated and enthroned as the Archbishop.
It was also noted that they continued to use the assets of CPCA without approval of the provincial synod, in furtherance of the interest of their new church.
Dr Kunonga and his allies had no right once they seceded from the church in 2007 to continue holding onto the church assets, the court found.
Dr Kunonga withdrew the diocese from the CPC to form the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe after the province began ecclesiastical proceedings to investigate the controversial bishop on charges of fraud, heresy and attempted murder.
When he formed his church, Dr Kunonga clung on to the Anglican property for five years, while tormenting church members and denying them access to the properties, it was revealed.
At the height of the property control dispute, Dr Kunonga and his followers, including Beaven Michael Ngundu, Alfred Tome, Justin Nyazika and Winter Shamuyarira, decided to dispose of the church’s property in the form of shares it owned in various companies.
The unilateral sale of property and shares prejudiced the church members of $427 892.
Dr Kunonga was joined by the Bishop of Manicaland, the Rt. Rev. Elston Jakazi in the schism, further dividing the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.