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Anglican Primate Calls on Zimbabwe's Mugabe to Stop Worshipers' Persecution

Armed police stopped a meeting by clerics Tuesday saying it contravened a ruling by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku saying excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga was the true Bishop of Harare, not Bishop Chad Gandiya, recognized internationally

The Anglican Church primate for Southern Africa called on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Wednesday to stop the ongoing persecution of Anglican worshipers following police action halting a retreat by clerics in Marondera, Mashonaland East.

Police said the meeting contravened a ruling last year by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku that said excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga was the true Bishop of the Harare diocese, not Bishop Chad Gandiya, recognized internationally.

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town deplored the police action and urged Mr. Mugabe to “ensure that the religious freedom of all Zimbabweans and especially persecuted Anglicans is respected.”

He also urged "ecumenical friends and our partners in the Anglican Communion to ask their governments to put pressure on Zimbabwe to end the persecution."

“The forthcoming season of Epiphany speaks of our hope that the incarnate Christ breaks all boundaries," Makgoba said. "And that he will ultimately break the power of President Mugabe and those of his supporters who carry out these deeds, and bring freedom to Zimbabwe.”

Harassment of Anglicans loyal to Gandiya has continued despite hopes raised when Mugabe met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church worldwide, indicating his willingness to seek a solution to divisions.

Bishop Gandiya told VOA's Ntungamili Nkomo that he is encouraged by the support from the regional primate, adding the police should stop harassing his followers.

"We were told that we were supposed to seek permission for out retreat, and yet under POSA (Public Order and Security Act) that's not the case," Gandiya said.

Political commentator Brilliant Mhlanga of the University of Westminster in London said Mr. Mugabe can not stop Kunonga from harassing his rivals because ZANU-PF sees him as an asset.