Ecclesial chaos in Dar es Salaam

 

Ecclesial chaos in Dar es Salaam

Author: 

George Conger

The Tanzanian Ministry of the Interior has declined to intervene in the dispute surrounding the forced retirement of the Bishop of Dar es Salaam. This week’s ruling strengthens the hand of the Primate of Tanzania, the Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya in his dispute with the Bishop of Dar es Salaam, the Rt. Rev. Valentino Mokiwa (pictured). However, moves are afoot in the House of Bishops to impeach Archbishop Chimeledya and restore Dr. Mokowa to office.

In a letter dated 6 March 2017, the Registrar of Corporations in the Interior Ministry, Mr. M. L. Komba, told Archbishop Chimeledya “since the Anglican Church and the Diocese of Dar es Salaam are governed by constitutions, we have advised Dr. Mokiwa to convey his complaint on the existing dispute to an appellate tribunal within the church.”

The government’s decision leaves intact under civil law the 7 January 2017 deposition of Dr. Mokiwa for financial misconduct. However, a majority of bishops have come out against the archbishop. They have demanded he hold a meeting of the House of Bishops to address the dispute -- a move the archbishop has so far declined to do, as a majority presently exists that could vote him out of office and restore Dr. Mokiwa.

The battle between the two bishops began with the 2013 election for primate. Dr. Mokiwa was defeated for reelection as archbishop by Bishop Chimeledya in a fight that pitted the Anglo-Catholic wing under Mokiwa against the Evangelicals led by Chimeledya. The third faction, consisting of bishops drawn from the Wagogo tribe, threw their support to the challenger.

Allegations of bribery were raised immediately after the election, with claims foreign money had been used to bribe the electors. However, after threatening to bring the election dispute to court, Dr. Mokiwa stepped back and agreed to honor the outcome. Sources in the Mokowa camp at the time told Anglican Ink the costs to litigate the election were a factor in deciding not to sue, as was the hope that Dr. Mokiwa would be returned to office in the 2018 election for primate -- as Archbishop Chimeledya would be too old to seek reelection.

The wounds left from the 2013 election have not healed, however, with a number of Anglo-Catholic dioceses declining to support the national church. Sources in Tanzania tell Anglican.Ink that such practices have not been unknown as during Dr. Mokiwa’s tenure as archbishop Evangelicals withheld funds from the national church also.

Last year an investigation was launched by Archbishop Chimeledya into allegations of corruption by Dr. Mokiwa. A committee chartered by the House of Bishops found evidence the bishop had embezzled diocesan funds -- a charge Dr. Mokiwa has denied, claiming the allegations were politically motivated.

The House of Bishops agreed to discipline Dr. Mokiwa after the committee presented its findings. However in January Archbishop Chimeledya deposed the Dar es Salaam bishop -- causing a backlash of support for Dr. Mokiwa from the bishops who were upset their primate had exceeded the mandate given him.

On 28 Feb 2017 Dr. Mokiwa withdrew his lawsuit in civil court against the archbishop, a move applauded in the Tanzanian press as the start of a process of reconciliation within the church. However, sources close to the dispute speculate Dr. Mokiwa withdrew his civil lawsuit in order to pursue ecclesiastical remedies against the archbishop. The House of Bishops could not discuss a dispute pending before the civil courts, AI has been told, allegedly prompting Dr. Mokiwa to drop the lawsuit to push for a resolution within the House of Bishops.

Last week the former Bishop of Mpwapwa, the Rt. Rev. Simon Chiwanga, who also was the former chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, was understood to have agreed to broker a meeting between the bishops and the archbishop. Sixteen of the church’s bishops gathered in Dodoma, or were close by, but the archbishop and Bishop Chiwanga skipped the meeting, leaving the church in chaos.

Archbishop Chimeledya has installed a new dean at St Alban’s Cathedral in Dar es Salaam and instructed the diocesan clergy, evangelists, catechists, and church wardens to meet with him at the Cathedral on Sunday, 12 March 2017. Dr. Mokiwa has urged his supporters to boycott the meeting. Asked what will happen now, sources in Tanzania say they haven’t a clue, and are waiting to see what happens at the Cathedral this Sunday.

Registrar Letter to Chimeledya 2017.03.06 by George Conger on Scribd

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