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Dear Family and Friends,
Two unexpected but very welcome developments occurred this week, reviving flagging spirits and giving hope that maybe justice can return to Zimbabwe. The first came in the form of a ruling from our Supreme Court. It had been a very long time coming but at last the excommunicated Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga was told that he was not entitled to control and possess Anglican Church properties that he had been claiming and occupying since 2007. The Supreme Court Judges found that Mr Kunonga had withdrawn from the Anglican church to form his own institution and therefore could not hold on to Anglican Church properties.
‘Pack and Go,’ were the headlines on one newspaper and they were words that many thousands of people, and not only Anglicans, had been waiting to hear for five years. No one had ever really understood, let alone believed that Mr Kunonga had been allowed to first hold services in the Anglican churches and then take them over altogether. With shock we watched Anglicans holding their services under trees, in tents and in private homes because their churches had been taken over by Mr Kunonga. Then we watched in disbelief as Anglican priests and their families were evicted from church houses, and then in horror we saw Mr Kunonga and his followers take over Anglican orphanages and evict the children.
Justice was a long time coming and every day since the Supreme Court ruling all eyes have been on Anglican churches and properties. At the time of writing there is no sign that the Anglican Church in my home town is being vacated by Mr Kunonga’s people. For the past year this landmark church situated less than a block from the centre of the town has been turned into a school. In the church courtyard, sitting on low walls and under shaded veranda’s children have been receiving lessons. It’s a similar situation in many Anglican churches which Mr Kunonga took over and then rented out to other organisations. In the days following the Supreme Court ruling, horrors have started to be exposed. The Anglican Harare diocese secretary said that they had found many of their churches had been abused, some even turned into brothels. In one instance we heard there had been ‘widespread sexual abuse’ going on in an orphanage taken over by Mr Kunonga’s supporters. The Anglicans say that as soon as their properties are vacated they will be holding cleansing ceremonies across the diocese.
The second welcome development came from the Ivory Coast where the African Commission on Human and People's Rights were meeting. ‘Human rights history made as African Commission declares Zimbabwean farmers’ case admissible,’ was the headline of the Afriforum press release. After African Heads of State suspended the SADC Tribunal in August 2011 all avenues had been closed for individuals, like Zimbabwean farmers, who had had failed to get justice from the courts in their own countries. Left with nowhere to go and no one who would listen to us, the African Commission picked up the baton. They ruled that the complaint lodged with it on behalf of Zimbabwean farmers Luke Tembani and Ben Freeth against 14 heads of state of SADC countries was admissible. Afriforum said: ‘Freeth and Tembani’s legal team now have 60 days to make further submissions on the merits of their complaint, after which the Commission will consider the complaint.’
History was made when justice finally came for Anglicans in Zimbabwe this week and at the same time a small flicker of hope was revived for farmers – maybe we too will also see justice one day; we have waited so long. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
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