Kunonga plea for judicial relief

 

Kunonga plea for judicial relief

Author: 

George Conger

Oral argument was heard last week before the Zimbabwe Supreme Court on the petition of the former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, to set aside a judgment of $427,892 awarded the Diocese of Harare and the Church of the Province of Central Africa. Last year the courts held Dr Kunonga and his confederates had unlawfully disposed of shares owned by the diocese -- the bishop had attempted to breakaway from the province after allegations of misconduct, corruption and heresy were raised. With the support of the security services of the ruling ZANU-PF party, Dr. Kunonga was able to take control of the assets of the diocese, even though upwards of 90 per cent of the diocese refused to support him. However, after five years of litigation the courts found Dr Kunonga had acted unlawfully and ordered the return of the properties to the CPCA and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Chad Gandiya. An audit of diocesan accounts found Dr. Kunonga had sold the shares to fund his activities, leading to the lawsuit. On 12 May 2016 Dr. Kunonga’s attorneys told the Supreme Court the lower court ruling was in error. It had ruled the “appellant and co-trustees had the right of use of the property. However, property such as shares cannot be used without dissipating them.” The court’s ruling that Dr. Kunonga had the right of use during the dispute, but not the right to sell was erroneous. Lawyers for the diocese argued that while he had the right of use, Dr. Kunonga “could not lawfully alienate the property until the dispute had been finalised by the court,” adding “the appellant took a well-calculated risk in disposing of the property. The fact that he disposed of the shares prior to the finalisation of the appeal is his own problem.” The court is currently reviewing the case and is expected to issue its ruling later in the year.

 
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