An altercation last month at Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar led to the mitre of the Rt. Rev. Michael Hafidh being knocked from his head in the fracas, with blows exchanged between his supporters and critics.
The 31 August 2020 riot follows a year of well publicized discord in the diocese over the bishop’s personal conduct and management of the diocesan finances. In February 2020 a petition to the Tanzanian primate prepared by members of the diocese accused the bishop of misconduct.
The bishop was accused of having committed adultery with the wife of a member of the cathedral parish, and after the woman became pregnant, he was alleged to have procured an abortion for her. The bishop is also accused of having had children outside of wedlock. He was also accused of diverting diocesan and cathedral funds for his own use, or for the use of his children, including leasing out diocesan property to commercial ventures without informing the diocesan standing committee, and in one case giving the cathedral car park concession two different individuals — prompting litigation between the two.
Bishop Hafidhi was also criticized for renting cathedral property to a militant Islamist group which meets at the church on Fridays. The Islamist group is alleged to have begun taking group pictures of their gathering on the church grounds, prompting fears they will claim it as Muslim property.
The adultery allegations were raised in a 29 June 2020 court filing in the Vuga High Court, case number 21/2020, before Judge Yessaya Kayange. Mr. Saburi Khamis is seeking damages against the bishop for having had an affair with his wife, Anun Ramadhani. At a 20 July 2020 hearing attorneys for the bishop denied the allegations, and the bishop told the press he was confident he would be exonerated.
The bishop’s actions have led to protests from a number of clergy, who have called for him to resign. Bishop Hafidhi responded by removing his critics from their parish, and on 31 Aug 2020 held a service to install their successors.
Sources in Zanzibar report supporters of the fired clergy blocked the bishop from entering the church. A fight broke out between the two groups and the police were called to restore order — with the bishop losing his mitre in the scuffle, which was soon recovered.