A breakaway Anglican bishop and his supporters are demonstrating outside Harare’s main cathedral against a visit by the worldwide head of the Anglican church to Zimbabwe.
Bishop Nolbert Kunonga says the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’s Sunday visit to Zimbabwe is a “crusade for gays” and he says he has “refused to be associated with homosexuality”.
Kunonga was excommunicated from the Anglican church after inciting violence in his sermons supporting Zimbabwe’s longtime President Robert Mugabe.
The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been divided since Kunonga’s excommunication. He has taken over the main cathedral, schools and the church’s bank accounts. The Archbishop of Canterbury wants to meet with Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, to discuss an end to the disruptions.
Meanwhile, Mugabe wants to meet the Archbishop to explain the Anglican church’s stance on homosexuality and the western sanctions on him and his allies, a spokesperson said on Sunday.
Williams is due to lead a communion service in a Harare stadium on Sunday as part of his three-nation African tour.
Williams may not be allowed into any Anglican facilities in Zimbabwe, due to Bishop Kunonga seizure of all of the church’s property.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba did not say if the two men would meet, but told the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper that if they did speak, the 87-year-old president would challenge Williams about gays and sanctions.
“Fundamentally, he would want to know why the church of the British state, the Anglican Church, has remained so loudly silent while the people of Zimbabwe, and these people include Anglicans, are suffering from the illegal sanctions,” Charamba said.
“The second issue that the president wants this man of God to clarify is why his Anglican Church thinks homosexuality is good for us and why it should be prescribed for us.
“He thinks the Archbishop will be polite enough to point to him that portion of the Great Book [that] sanctions homosexuality and sanctions sanctions.”
Mugabe and members of his inner circle, including Kunonga, are under a travel ban and asset freeze imposed by Britain and other western countries because of a decade of violently flawed elections.
Mugabe is renowned for his anti-gay stance and has described gays and lesbians as “worse than pigs and dogs”.
Charamba’s statement came as Williams was heading by road from Malawi to the Zimbabwean capital where he will hold a mass for Anglicans in Harare forced from their properties by an excommunicated bishop and his allies. — Sapa-AP, AFP