Members of the Anglican Church Diocese of Harare, who were persecuted by former Bishop Bishop Nolbert Kunonga for five years, have turned their fortunes around just a few years after winning back their churches and properties.
They have been repairing their buildings and now have set the ball rolling as they seek to construct a $250 million university in Marondera, Mashonaland East province. It will be known as the Anglican University of Zimbabwe.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony at Rufaro Longlands Farm on Saturday, Church of the Anglican Diocese of Harare of the Church of the Province of Central African, Bishop Chad Gandiya, said after years of persecution, they came back richer in terms of commitment, spiritual and numerical growth.
Parishioners worshiped in the open when they were locked out of the churches by Kunonga and his team for more than five years.
“Nothing is going to stop us now,” said Bishop Gandiya. “This is it. We have started this process and there’s no going back. We feel good about this and we thank God for everything.”
Bishop Gandiya said they decided to show their commitment and thanksgiving to God after all they have been through by building the Anglican University of Zimbabwe.
He said when they won back their properties from the Kunonga group, which was ordered by the court to stop interfering with the affairs of the church, they faced a lot of difficulties as their property was damaged.
“We struggled, there was a lot of damage to the buildings and we needed a lot of money to do repairs,” said Gandiya. “Things are much better now but there’s still work to be done.”
Central African ArchBishop, Albert Chama, said all Anglican Church members should tap into the courage and strength that made them survive the five years of persecution as they construct this university.
Bishop Gandiya played down the absence of government ministers at the ground-breaking ceremony saying they should have been busy, especially after the land on which the university is being constructed was approved by the state.
Marondera mayor Antony Makwindi said the university will help the town to create jobs for local people.
The Anglican University will have a bias towards bio-medical sciences focusing on general public health, disabilities, ageing and health matters associated with poverty, food and the environment, technology and innovation and businesses, among other programs.
Other churches that have universities in the country include the Catholic Church, Seventh Day Adventist and the United Methodist Church.