Dar es Salaam bishop accuses rivals of bending church law to oust him
Dr. Valentino Mokiwa, the embattled bishop of Dar es Salaam, has accused the Church of Tanzania’s provincial officers of mounting a coup to remove him from office. In a 9 Jan 2017 press conference in Dar es Salaam, Bishop Mokiwa named the church’s general secretary, its chief legal advisor, and other prominent leaders of seeking to oust him with the help of the government from his post.
On 7 Jan 2017 the Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, Archbishop of Tanzania, deposed Dr. Mokiwa under Articles 9b and 17 of the church’s constitution, after the Dar es Salaam bishop refused to resign after a provincial investigation found him guilty of theft of church assets.
At his Monday press conference, Dr. Mokiwa said the diocese did not recognize the deposition. He charged the archbishop with having taken an ultra vires action, one not permitted under church law.
Dr. Mokiwa accused the vice-president of the House of Bishops, the Bishop of Newala, the Rt. Rev. Oscar Mnung’a and the church’s Provincial Secretary, the Rev. Johnson Chinyong’ole with leading the coup. He also named a Dar es Salaam parish priest, the Rev. John Mhina and the former diocesan director of mission and evangelism, the Rev. Paul Mtweve, as being behind the charge.
He also challenged the legal grounds for his removal from office, saying the archbishop’s legal advisor, Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi, had misinterpreted the canons and had given faulty advice to Archbishop Chimeledya.
Prof. Kabudi, who served as legal advisor for Dr. Mokiwa when he was archbishop, dismissed the bishop’s charges. “I served him well as advisor when he was the archbishop; I also advised Donald Mtetemela during his term in office, nobody accused me of wrong advice…why now?”
He added: “Everything is clear in the archbishop’s letter. People should read the letter and draw conclusions.”