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Bishop of Manicaland returns to court to answer charges of obstruction of justice

Agents of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission arrested the Bishop of Manicaland last week, accusing the Rt. Rev. Eric Ruwona with obstruction of justice.

On 10 December 2020 Bishop Ruwona appeared before the Mutare magistrates court to answer charges that he violated Section 14(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act by obstructing the course of justice. The bishop was released after posting bail of $10,000 and ordered by Magistrate Rich Ramaboea not to interfere with government witnesses. 

The government complaint alleges that in 2018 the ZAAC received a report that Bishop Ruwona and four accomplices had sold a church owned vehicle and pocketed the proceeds. A key witness in the case was a priest of the Diocese of Manicaland, the Rev. Gilbert Sambona.

ZACC investigators interviewed Fr. Sambona in Mutare and took a statement from the priest confirming the allegation the bishop and his confederates had sold the church vehicle. On 14 Nov 2018 Fr. Sambona received a subpoena from the ZACC directing him to testify before the court. 

The complaint agains the bishop offered by area prosecutor Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira, stated: 

“Soon after testifying against the accused person, the bishop threatened the complainant with termination of his employment. On November 19, 2018, the complainant received a WhatsApp message from a UK registered number stating that he had been fired from the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland and the number had Ruwona’s profile picture and his friends. On December 13, 2018, Sambona received a letter from Ruwona notifying him that his licence as a priest had been revoked in terms of Canon 16(2) of the constitution and Canon of Church of the Province of Central Africa.”

The Bishop subsequently evicted Fr. Sambona from his rectory and stopped his salary.

“The accused person being the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland acted in a manner calculated or likely to prejudice the complainant because he had given information to ZACC concerning the theft of a motor vehicle,” said Mr Mutyasira.

Attorneys for the bishop told the court their client was acting within his rights as Bishop of Manicaland in disciplining a disobedient priest under the canons of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

In January the bishop appeared before the Mutare court to answer charges he defrauded Agribank and the Diocese of Manicaland of $750,000. That case is still pending. The bishop returns to court on 30 December 2020 for a hearing his obstruction of justice complaint.

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