Williams visits Zimbabwe amid church-state standoff

October 4, 2011

HARARE, Zimbabwe (RNS/ENInews) Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
will visit Zimbabwe in a show of support for Anglicans who are under
siege from a renegade ex-bishop who plans to snub the leader of the
worldwide Anglican Communion.


Anglicans in Zimbabwe are embroiled in a church property fight with
former Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of the capital of Harare. Kunonga left the
church in 2007 over what he said was its pro-gay stance.


Kunonga has formed his own church around a group of followers,
claiming rights over church property, schools and hospitals. Kunonga is
allied with President Robert Mugabe, who has maintained a tight grip on
power for 30 years.


Williams' Oct. 5-13 visit, which will include visits to Malawi and
Zambia, will "show support to Anglicans in Zimbabwe in the face of
ongoing persecution at the hands of an ex-communicated man who has
nothing else to do than focus his attention on destroying what
generations of Anglicans built using their own resources," the Harare
diocese said in a statement.


Kunonga called Williams "a British diplomat representing
neo-colonial interests," and said he has little interest in meeting with
him.


"I can't be in solidarity with him. He won't solve anything," he
said. "Other people are seeing hope. They are seeing Jesus Christ
coming."


Williams has said he has asked for a meeting with Mugabe, whom
critics accuse of using police and the courts to intimidate clergy,
staff and worshippers.


Anglicans recognize another prelate, Chad Gandiya, as bishop of
Harare. "Zimbabweans should know that they are not forgotten by the
global church," said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, South
Africa.


(Reporting was contributed by Munyaradzi Makoni in Cape Town, South
Africa.)