Zimbabwe Supreme Court Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on Thursday was to hear further arguments in a long-running case pitting former Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga against a new Anglican administration appointed by the Church of the Province of Central Africa, headed by current Harare Bishop Chad Gandiya.
At stake in the case are Anglican church assets including churches and other properties, some well beyond the geographical bounds of the diocese.
Kunonga resigned from the Anglican church and was later excommunicated, so there are no religious issues at stake in the tangled legal battle.
Chidyausiku recently issued an interim ruling giving Kunonga control of church properties and assets. This was followed by a wave of evictions of priests and nuns – even those taking care of orphans, in one case – by Kunonga loyalists backed by police.
The Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court - the full bench of Supreme Court justices.
But Chidyausiku summoned both parties to his office, instructing the Church of the Province of Central Africa to drop its appeal and instead file an urgent appeal which he said he would hear Thursday, promising an urgent ruling Friday in the case.
All this comes ahead of an announced visit by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who has asked to meet with President Robert Mugabe although he has characterized the visit to Zimbabwe as pastoral in nature.
Church of the Province of Central Africa spokesman Precious Shumba said his group is concerned at the latest move by Chidyausiku, who has effectively prevented the case from going before all of his peers, thus retaining control of the outcome.
Speaking for Kunonga, Bishop Alfred Munyanyi said evictions from church properties of anyone linked to Gandiya will continue regardless of the pending hearing.