Battle for Dar es Salaam ends with consecration of new bishop


Battle for Dar es Salaam ends with consecration of new bishop


George Conger

The battle for the Diocese of Dar es Salaam ended Saturday with the consecration of a new bishop. On 4 Feb 2018 the Rt. Rev. Jackson Sosthenes was consecrated bishop of Tanzania’s wealthiest diocese by the Primate of Tanzania, the Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, effectively ending four years of legal and ecclesial battled between Archbishop Chimeledya and the former Bishop of Dar es Salaam and Archbishop of Tanzania, the Most Rev. Valentino Mokiwa.

The battle between the two bishops Mokiwa and Chimeledya 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 Bishop Chimeledya.

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 were not healed, however, with a number of Anglo-Catholic dioceses, including Dar es Salaam, withholding support from the national church. In 2016 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 denied, claiming the allegations were politically motivated.

Outside intervention has failed to resolve the dispute. In March the Rt. Rev. Simon Chiwanga, who also was the former chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council and Bishop of Mwapwa sought to broker a meeting between the parties, while the chairman of CAPA, the Most Rev. Albert Chama, Archbishop of Central Africa was rebuffed in his efforts to resolve the dispute.  

At its 2016 meeting, the House of Bishops agreed to discipline Dr. Mokiwa after the committee presented its findings. However in January 2017 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. However, at their May 2017 meeting the Tanzanian bishops voted to uphold Dr. Mokiwa’s removal. Civil legal battles ensued over control of church properties and facilities -- however, the government came down on the side of the archbishop, forcing Dr. Mokiwa to lead services from his home.

The new bishop, an evangelical, was educated at the Trinity School for Ministry in the United States, and is expected to support Archbishop Chimeledya’s faction within the church. However, the archbishop will retire in March -- reshuffling the deck in the Tanzanian House of Bishops.

The President of Tanzania John Magufuli (pictured with Bishop Sosthenes) addressed the congregation during Bishop Sosthenes installation, chastising the church for the public scandal caused by its feuding. According to a press release from his office, President Magufuli said:

"The government is fully committed to partnering with all religious organisations in efforts to improve the lives of all Tanzanians,"  but “this can be achieved through the elimination of seemingly endless conflicts which mire the Church."

"I request you to end this conflict”, the president said to Bishop Sosthenes, “and try to forgive rather than engage in vengeance,"

"Let us pray together against these differences resurfacing, our presence here has demonstrated that we have won the battle and that Satan has been defeated," the President said.