By Peta Thornycroft
12 March 2006
In Zimbabwe, eight men, including an opposition legislator, have been
charged with plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe. Peta
Thornycroft, in this VOA report from Harare, has more on the court
proceedings in the eastern city of Mutare.
Prosecutor Levson Chikafu said the eight men held several meetings in the
last five years, allegedly to discuss a number of plots against President
Mugabe and the government.
He said the police found an arms cache at the Mutare home of one of the
accused, Michael Hitschmann, who the court heard had implicated others in a
statement he made shortly after his arrest.
Trust Manda, Hitschmann's lawyer, said his client made a statement under
duress, after being held incommunicado for 48 hours.
He said Hitschmann was a licensed firearms dealer, but that his client had
not had an opportunity to check whether the weapons confiscated by the
police belonged to him.
Giles Mutsekwa, a member of parliament for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, was also arrested, along with two opposition provincial
Lawyers claimed that four of those arrested last week were tortured, when
they were being held initially at army barracks.
Police claim the suspects were linked to a shadowy organization, allegedly
based in London, called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement.
The state has linked this organization to the opposition Movement for
The MDC has denied it has links with any violent group or plot against
President Mugabe. It says the arrests are an attempt to destabilize an
opposition congress it plans to hold next week.
Lawyers for the eight have applied to court for their release, on the
grounds there is no reasonable case against them. A decision will be handed
There have been several cases over the last quarter century when scores of
people have been arrested and charged with treason and of plotting to
assassinate Mr. Mugabe. None of the cases has ever been proven.
Mon 13 March 2006
MUTARE - State security agents beat up and tortured four opposition
activists arrested last week for allegedly possessing arms of war and tried
to force them to confess plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe and
overthrow his government, the activists' lawyers said at the weekend.
One of the defence lawyers, Chris Ndlovu, told Mutare magistrate
Fabian Feshete that a team of secret service agents and soldiers took the
four Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists to a military camp
called Adams Barracks, about six kilometers east of the city.
At the camp, the four were severely beaten up and tortured including
on their private organs and at one time some of the MDC activists were
forced to drink human urine as the security agents attempted to force them
to admit plotting to murder Mugabe last month and illegally remove the
ruling ZANU PF party from power, Ndlovu said.
"They were abused by police and military personnel who are
investigating the case," Ndlovu told the court that sat on Saturday after
defence lawyers pressed for their clients to be brought to court in line
with detention regulations that require suspects to be arraigned in court
within 48 hours of being detained by the police.
"They wanted to force them to confess to the alleged crimes," said
The magistrate however did not order an investigation into the
allegations of torture and did not even appear to have taken official note
of Ndlovu's complaints about the ill-treatment of his clients.
Torture is outlawed in Zimbabwe. However, state security agents
especially the dreaded spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has been
routinely accused by the MDC and human rights groups of torturing perceived
political opponents of the government. The government denies its agents use
The MDC members that appeared in court on Saturday are the opposition
party's defence secretary Giles Mutsekwa, youth chairman in Manicaland
province Knowledge Nyamhuka and activists Thando Sibanda, Wellington Tsuro
and Edwin Chekutya.
Former soldier in the white army before Zimbabwe's independence, Peter
Hitschmann, and at whose Mutare home security say they discovered an illegal
cache of weapons that were to be used by the MDC activists also appeared in
court with the five.
Hitschmann and Mutsekwa said they had not been tortured.
The group was charged with contravening section 10 (1) of the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) by conspiring to possess weaponry for
insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism.
The MDC activists, who were remanded in custody to March 28 this year
and face life imprisonment if found guilty, deny the charges against them.
About 10 other MDC activists including the opposition party's
treasurer for Manicaland province Brian James are also being held by police
over the same allegations of wanting to murder Mugabe and overthrow his
And state media at the weekend reported that more MDC members will be
arrested in what the MDC and outside observers have dismissed as a well
orchestrated plan by Mugabe's government to conjure up a failed coup and in
the process distract public attention from worsening economic hardships.
Political analysts also say the government also hopes to use the coup
allegations to weaken the faction of the fractured MDC that is loyal to
Morgan Tsvangirai and is seen as more radical in its opposition to Mugabe
and ZANU PF.
The MDC split into two camps after Tsvangirai disagreed with other top
leaders over whether to contest last November's controversial senate
election that was won by ZANU PF.
Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC opposed participation in the poll
saying it would be stolen by Mugabe while his deputy Gibson Sibanda and
secretary general Welshman Ncube wanted to contest the poll saying
boycotting would be to surrender political space to the government. Ncube
and Sibanda's faction is now led by former student leader and top scientist,
Arthur Mutambara. All the MDC members arrested by the police last week
belong to Tsvangirai's faction of the opposition party.
Although Tsvangirai says he has lost faith in elections and says he
will lead his supporters in what he calls "popular resistance" against
Mugabe's government, he however says this does not include an armed
insurrection against the Harare government. - ZimOnline
Mon 13 March 2006
HARARE - Last May, 70-year old pensioner, Yotamu Mwale watched
helplessly as bulldozers razed his three backyard shacks in Majubeki Lines,
in the poor suburb of Mbare in Harare.
For Mwale - and many other retirees in this old suburb - the shacks
were a source of critically needed additional income to augment a small
pension that has virtually lost all value due to rising inflation.
But barely a year after President Robert Mugabe sanctioned a
military-style home demolition campaign in urban areas that displaced at
least 700 000 people and directly affected another 2.4 million people,
according to a United Nations report, his government is at it again - this
time sanctioning an astronomical hike in rates that has hit hard defenceless
Zimbabweans wryly described the controversial housing demolition
campaign as "Mugabe's tsunami".
With no steady income after the demolition of his backyard shacks,
Mwale who is of Malawian ancestry, says his life is miserable as he battles
to eke a living in what has turned out to be an inhospitable city.
"I can now hardly afford to pay my monthly rates let alone buy enough
food for myself," he says dejectedly.
A government appointed commission running Harare last month
arbitrarily hiked rates by more than 1 000 percent, to levels well beyond
the reach of most pensioners here.
Mwale, who retired some five years ago, says he gets a pension of Z$3
000 a month, hardly enough to buy a loaf of bread. Bread now costs about
Z$65 000 a loaf.
But under the new rates announced by the council last week, residents
must now fork out Z$5 million for water and services, up from an average of
Z$700 000 that they used to pay last year.
"When the postman delivered my water bill for the month, I could not
believe it. I thought he had delivered it to the wrong address. I also
thought it could have been a computer error.
"But when I heard a widow down the street wailing in protest over her
bills, I knew I was not the only one with such a huge bill," says Mwale.
Zimbabwe is in its sixth year of a bitter economic recession which has
seen inflation shooting beyond 700 percent. Food, fuel and essential
medicines are also in critical short supply because there is no hard cash to
pay foreign suppliers.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and major
Western governments blame the country's economic crisis on Mugabe's policies
especially his seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless
blacks six years ago.
But it is not just the pensioners who are in trouble over the
ballooning rates in Harare.
Mwale's neighbours some of whom are still gainfully employed in the
few remaining industries in Harare, are also bitter over the new rates.
Rudo Tsikira, a ward co-ordinator in Mbare, said the council must
rethink as the new rates are way beyond the reach of residents, groaning
under a six year old economic crisis described by the World Bank as
unprecedented for a country not at war.
"We hope the commission will rethink this whole thing and stop their
diabolic schemes as this is affecting the poor and aged in Mbare who have no
source of income," she said.
Mairos Gawura, also a pensioner in the suburb, says the commission
must revise their rates as residents cannot afford to pay such astronomical
"When the government demolished the shacks, I was saddled with a $4
million bill after my lodgers were dispersed in the middle of the month
before they could settle the bill.
"There is no way I can pay the amount with the $3 000 pension I
receive every month," added Gawura.
A spokesman for the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA),
Precious Shumba, said residents must take collective action against the
commission running Harare over its arrogance and insensitivity to the plight
of the poor.
"We have maintained that the 2006 budget was implemented without
following the proper procedures according to the Urban Councils Act," said
Shumba whose association has been highly critical of the commission.
CHRA says it is still gauging the mood on the ground with a view to
calling for a rates boycott or demonstrations against the rates increases.
Harare, once a model city in Africa, is in an advanced state of decay due to
years of mismanagement.
Burst sewer pipes spewing raw sewage, uncollected garbage and erratic
water supplies are a common occurrence in Harare suburbs.
And for Mwale and other old timers here in Mbare, the recent rate hike
could be the last act by, as he puts it, "an arrogant government determined
to turn into nightmare what for us should be a time of happy retirement and
rest." - ZimOnline
Mail and Guardian
Fanuel Jongwe | Nyanga, Zimbabwe
12 March 2006 07:50
Chipo Mapako, a village head in the eastern Zimbabwean district
of Nyanga, does not remember when he last had a square meal.
The 56-year-old father of seven squints up at the sky, then
holds his chin and shakes his head when asked when he last had a proper
"The daily struggle for us is to find enough food to stave off
hunger," says Mapako, who heads a village of at least 300 people in the
district renowned as much for its picturesque mountain ranges as for its
dry, stony fields. "Getting sufficient food is hard enough and who would
think about nutrients?"
Nine-year-old Takudzwa Tazvitya, a fourth-grade pupil, eats a
handful of roasted peanuts and a cup of milkless tea for breakfast before
starting off barefoot on a 7km trek to school.
After class the boy, who wants to become a police officer, joins
a queue in a makeshift soup kitchen at Tamunesa Primary School where hungry
pupils carrying battered bowls and greasy plastic plates receive fortified
The gruel contains "all the nutrients they miss in the meals at
home", according to an official from the United Nations World Food Programme
Mapako and Takudzwa are among thousands of villagers in the
Nyanga district near Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique, living on the verge
of starvation and relying on monthly food rations from the WFP.
"We usually have two small meals -- one during the day and one
before we go to bed -- but the situation is so bad we go to bed on a meal of
boiled vegetables," says Venenzia Mwendazviya, a 26-year-old mother of
three. "We crush peanuts to squeeze out cooking oil, but we often run out of
the peanuts and just eat boiled vegetables."
Goodson Murinye, head of the WFP office in the eastern city of
Mutare, says the district is in the red category -- the most vulnerable --
according to a study done late last year by a committee of state welfare
officers and aid agencies.
"At least 42% of the population is food insecure with the
highest malnutrition rate in the province," Murinye said at a
food-distribution centre where villagers lined up to receive their monthly
handouts of 10kg of corn-meal.
The district also ranks third in the country in HIV/Aids
prevalence, according to the WFP.
The UN food agency and partners, such as the Irish food aid
agencies Concern and Goal, are feeding 1 700 people, with the number of
beneficiaries expected to swell to 74 956 by month-end, Murinye said.
School head Clifford Kanengoni said the food hand-outs help
reduce absenteeism among pupils at his school. "The pupils are more alert
and look healthier," he said. "Teaching them is more fun."
Zimbabwe is reeling under severe food shortages with at least
4,3-million in need of food aid until the next harvests in May.
Michael Huggins, WFP spokesperson for Southern Africa, says the
UN agency is feeding 4,3-million people in Zimbabwe and that the situation
is so "critical" that thousands will continue to require food aid for the
Beneficiaries of the WFP's food aid include three million on
food-distribution programmes, people with HIV/Aids, schoolchildren, and
pregnant and lactating mothers, Huggins says.
The government blames the food deficit on a drought that ravaged
the bulk of southern Africa two years ago.
But Huggins says the shortages are a result of a battery of
factors, including the failure by the economy to attract investment in
infrastructure, chronic poverty and the country's controversial reforms.
Zimbabwe's land reforms, which began often violently in 2000
after the rejection in a referendum on a government-sponsored draft
Constitution, have seen about 4 000 white farmers lose their properties.
Critics say the majority of the beneficiaries of the land
reforms lack farming skills and rely on government handouts. They also blame
the land reforms for the chronic food shortages in what was once Southern
Africa's bread basket.
"And you can't discount the fact that 20% of the population is
HIV-positive," Huggins says. "That means that nearly 20% of the population
is not able to work."
Huggins says although President Robert Mugabe declared last year
that his country would not need food aid from foreign donors, "we were still
feeding more than a million of people for most of last year". -- Sapa-AFP
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 6:52 AM
Subject: Scrappy little thorn bush
Dear Family and Friends, In my garden a scrappy little thorn bush appeared
from nowhere a few years ago. Its a weed really and is very common in the
bush, on road sides and river banks and often in disturbed land. Almost
all year round the bush has clusters of berries which are hard green, then
red and at last dark purple, almost black when they are ripe. The berries
are a nightmare to get at as the thorns are viscous and prolific and are
on all stems and branches and even the undersides of the leaves. Its not
really the sort of bush that proper gardeners would encourage or cultivate
and is more the kind of bush school kids stop and raid on their way to and
from school. At first, when the bush appeared in my garden I left it
because the berries were attracting a lot of birds. Then, I noticed my son
and his friends picking the berries when they were playing football in the
garden and I too began picking the odd berry here and there. Then, as
prices began to rise and foodstuffs as simple as a jar of jam became
something I couldn't afford anymore, I began really tending the scrappy
little thorn bush in my garden. Every day I carefully picked the berries
as they ripened and put them in a container in the freezer. There were
never more than three or four berries a day but they soon added up to
quite a substantial amount. Making up my own recipe, adding a couple of
lemons and a few chunks of chou chou I ended up with a great bounty of jam
from nothing more than a scrappy little thorn bush.
I know that little stories like this are a bit silly coming from a country
such dire trouble but they show what incredibly resourceful people we are in
Zimbabwe. In the last six years we have learned so many things across races,
cultures and classes. Despite, or perhaps because of the political horrors,
Zimbabweans are perhaps now more united than ever before. We are all
food, fuel and electricity shortages. We all have to drive on the same
collapsing roads, drink the same filthy brown water and pay the same
prices for the most basic groceries. Inflation reached 782% in February; the
says we now have the highest inflation in the world. The ordinary people of
Zimbabwe are desperate, utterly desperate for this to end, all that is
now is the political will - from both the ruling and opposition parties. We
and pray it is near as our summer days are shortening and winter will indeed
bleak. Until next week, love cathy Copyright cathy buckle 11th March 2006
WITHHELD PENSION ARREARS TO NOT DIE WITH THE PENSIONER. They remain a debt
which can be claimed by his or her estate.
I am an 83 year old Zimbabwe pensioner, now living in Australia, and I urge
you to sign this petition, which I have created for the benefit of my family
and the families of Zimbabwe pensioners worldwide.
Most of us are British and we are enraged by the silent acceptance of our
Many of us served with the British Forces in the second world war - our
fathers fought in the first one.
Many of us were encouraged by the British Government to go to Rhodesia and
help in it's post-war development. We then became victims of 'The Winds of
Change' and the blunders of inept or deceitful politicians. Now we are
dying, Britain; dying, forsaken and forgotten.
Last Year, the G8 countries cancelled 3.5 billion dollars of African debt:
now they are discussing more billions to be given for reconstruction. A
fraction of this money would settle all Zimbabwe pension entitlements.
With your support - A CLICK OF THE MOUSE ON THE PETITION - we can let the
world know that if pensions are not honoured, we are all dishonoured and
Human Rights are in the dustbin.
Mugabe is my age, he will soon be out. G8 and U.N. will be in, currency
stabilised and pension entitlements paid in real money, if this petition
Rights are never won unless people are willing to fight for them, So,
please, CLICK ON THE WEBSITE shown below, READ THE PETITION, CLICK ON - SIGN
THE PETITION, add comments if you wish and then pass it on.
I am open to helpful suggestions, or, make your comments on the petition at
the bottom of the web page (and sign by clicking on CLICK HERE).
R. B. BILLINGTON
Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 11:05 PM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
By Denford Magora
ON the face of it, Arthur Mutambara carries the credentials to
be a viable alternative to Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe. His
international experiences as well as his proven leadership qualities are on
the right side of history. He has also made his own money through business
and is quite unlikely to want to put his hand into the state cookie jar.
That said, Mutambara must be warned that academic and professional
achievements alone will not make him top dog in Zimbabwe. He needs a
strategy that connects with the people and I am concerned at his
confrontational tone, which would make it easier for the government to
unleash terror on his supporters.
Mutambara should have learnt a few things from anti-senate camp
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's failures. People in Zimbabwe today are easily
cowed. Street protests will see the army and the police pouring into the
streets and the response of Zimbabweans will be to withdraw into their
homes. This avenue - including mass stayaways - has failed before and it
will fail again because of the nature of our people. Just look at the
tireless National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) which continues to protest
in the streets in small numbers. Repeatedly, they are arrested while fellow
Zimbabweans stand on the pavements and look on.
It has got to a point where the people on whose behalf the NCA
wants a constitution are deriding the organisation. Talk in commuter
omnibuses is dismissive of its chairman Lovemore Madhuku. With my own ears,
I have heard people repeatedly mock the NCA leader and his followers.
Perhaps it is because hunger and poverty cannot immediately be connected to
a new constitution by the people. They do not see how a new constitution
would get rid of their very real problems, like transport, food shortages, a
crumbling infrastructure and rubbish-strewn, stinking-to-high-heaven
neighbourhoods. Mutambara must, therefore, not make the same mistake as
Tsvangirai and attempt to make this fight physical.
The government has got arms and he has none, unless there is
something he is not telling us. Further, engaging in a battle of wits with
Zanu PF alone will not yield results. Ideology is very important, yes, but
it is not the be-all and end-all of our politics. Solutions, then: The
professor and his friends in the MDC must connect with the people. This
means a lot of walkabouts. It means physically engaging the masses where
they wait for transport, at rallies, at their homes and anywhere else people
In this respect, Mutambara may want to take a leaf from the
pages of evangelical Christians and the so-called "Watchtowers". It is this
sort of engagement that will show people that the new leader is tireless and
concerned. He should not make Tsvangirai's mistake of sitting in an ivory
tower and remaining silent as prices rise every day and people wait for
hours in the rain for transport that is basically non-existent.
This would only be the beginning. Being physically connected
with the masses, what I call live-wire contact with the masses, is not
enough unless the message is clear. The message has to be localised. People
don't eat anti-imperialism. If Mutambara's group has supporters in every
constituency, it must understand what each of those constituencies want the
most. Is it the collection of stinking rubbish from their doorstep, as is
the case along Zvimba road in Glen Norah? Or the rehabilitation of roads,
like the massively potholed growth point of Juru, which is leading transport
operators to avoid stopping at the centre and inconveniencing travellers.
Then put forward a cohesive and credible alternative plan for eradicating
Look, it is not going to be easy, but if you have dedicated
yourself to working for the people, there is no rest. Your family will not
see you in broad daylight unless they come to your rallies or walkabouts.
You will probably go prematurely grey in the head and never develop a
pot-belly. But your objective will be met. Never must Mutambara make the
mistake of wanting to simply ride on the coat tails of people's discontent
with Zanu PF. Yes, the discontent is there, but that does not mean that any
Tom, Dick and Arthur can simply walk in and enjoy easy pickings.
Zanu PF will make it very difficult for them. Getting into power
for anyone other than Zanu PF will be like extracting blood from a stone. It
will require hard work, very hard work and tireless campaigning. The message
must be correct. While not necessarily pandering to the lowest common
denominator, it should at the same time be firmly grounded in the struggles
that the people of Zimbabwe can see, not abstract concepts of
self-determination and anti-unilateralism.
I do recognise that Mutambara had to bring these two subjects up
so that he is not branded a stooge of America and Britain by Zanu PF which,
as it happens, was what killed Tsvangirai in the rural areas. But that is no
reason to harp on about this while ignoring the bread and butter issues that
actually bring in the votes. There is no doubt about it, Mutambara's
entrance into national politics has caused a ripple but that ripple must now
become a tidal wave. For that to happen, people must be made to realise that
things need not continue the way they are. They can be made better. There is
no better way to achieve this than talking to people's pockets and stomachs.
If Mutambara appears too elitist and unconnected to the daily grind of
Zimbabweans, then his battle is lost.
* Denford Magora is a Harare-based marketing executive.
Saturday, March 11 2006 @ 11:06 PM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
The recently launched Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (PUMA)
says it will push government into establishing what it called a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC) over the 1987 Matabeleland and Midlands
atrocities committed by the Fifth Brigade. According to documents seen by
Zimdaily, the political party said that there was need for the establishment
of the TRC as this would help come up with a real picture of what transpired
then as a move to bring peace between the victims and the perpetrators.
In the documents, the party said there were conflicting figures
of the numbers of the people who died, hence the establishment of the TRC
would assist government in determining the extent of the atrocities. "We
believe that there is need to set up the commission where the perpetrators
and the victims would come together and seek to pave the way forward.
"We believe that this is a platform where the healing process
would actually start and there would be peace in the region," read part of
the document. PUMA added that it believed thousands of people, especially
children born at independence in 1980 were failing to access identity cards
and other important particulars as these required full information about
both parents to the child. We have hundreds of thousands of students roaming
the streets because they do not have birth certificates and other important
documents. We believe that the commission would then have the task of
establishing the whereabouts of some of these children's parents so that
they are able to get these requisite documents," added the documents.
ZNSPCA HQ: 497885 or 497574
156 Enterprise Rd. P.O.Box CH55 Chisipite. Harare
IT HAS BEEN BOUGHT TO OUR ATTENTION THAT AN ADVERT HAS BEEN RELEASED
OFFERING CASH FOR BOERBULS OR ANY PURE BRED DOGS.THIS IS CURRENTLY BEING
INVESTIGATED. THIS IS OF GREAT CONCERN TO THE ZNSPCA, AS WE FEEL IT MAY LEAD
TO THE THEFT OF PETS TO SELL TO THIS PERSON. PLEASE ENSURE YOUR DOGS ARE
SECURELY ENCLOSED WITHIN YOUR PROPERTY AND WARN YOUR STAFF NOT TO LET ANYONE
TAKE YOUR DOGS FOR ANY REASON. IN LINE WITH OUR POLICY AND MUNICIPAL LAWS WE
ADVICE THAT DOGS SHOULD BE STERILISED.
ZNSPCA HQ: 497885 or 497574
156 Enterprise Rd Chisipite
Harare SPCA 572152 or 576356 -7
ZNSPCA Inspectors Cell no:
Byo: Glynis: 091 367 260
Hre: Simon: 011 630 430
Jimmy: 011 528 449
Justine: 023 306 456
Masvingo: John: 011 867 099
From The Church Times (UK), 10 March
By Pat Ashworth
There has been a travesty of justice in Harare over the trial of Bishop
Kunonga, says the Chancellor of the diocese, Bob Stumbles. Mr Stumbles, who
is also Deputy Chancellor of the province of Central Africa, broke a
self-imposed silence on Tuesday, declaring he had a "moral obligation" to
speak. He charges the Archbishop of Central Africa, the Most Revd Bernard
Malango, with usurping the authority of the court by abruptly adjourning the
Bishop's trial on 38 charges in August 2005. No charges were read, no plea
entered, and no witnesses heard. The Archbishop acted when the judge
withdrew from the case. Nothing has officially been heard from the
Archbishop, says Mr Stumbles. "Six months of perceived prevarication have
dragged by with no official answer to letters asking the Archbishop when the
trial would continue." Reports in two newspapers on 23 December 2005 - the
Herald in Harare, and Pravda, in Russia - said that Archbishop Malalango had
apparently decided to rule on the matter himself, and had said there was no
case to answer. Mr Stumbles charges Archbishop Malango with exceeding his
authority, violating the canons, and issuing a "veiled threat" to anyone
bringing charges against a bishop of the province.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 11 March
By Christopher Howse
Sexual politics at Lake Malawi
A strange tale of homosexuality, racialism and rival "fêting" has been told,
in a strange way, in the news pages of the Church Times over the past few
months. Lay people, according to a report in last week's issue, have
declared the diocese of Lake Malawi "closed" until they have their "duly
elected" bishop. The man in question is the Rev Nicholas Henderson, the
vicar of All Saints Ealing, west London. The clergy of Lake Malawi, hundreds
of miles south of Ealing, had petitioned for him to be their bishop, and the
retiring bishop had concurred. In July last year Mr Henderson was elected,
but five Anglicans objected, and the case went to a Court of Confirmation.
An accusation was apparently made that the bishop-elect was given to
"advocacy of the gay and lesbian movement".
This allegation exemplifies a great divide between many African bishops and
their episcopal brothers in Anglican dioceses in North America and other
white-dominated regions. It is this bigger row that led the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to speak this week of a "rupture" in the
Anglican Communion. "If there is a rupture, it's going to be a more visible
rupture," he said. "I suppose my anxiety about it is that if the Communion
is broken we may be left with even less than a federation." Nicholas
Henderson's own bishop, Dr Peter Broadbent of Willesden, in London, has been
quoted as saying, "Nick has become a victim of the warfare between African
traditionalism and Western liberalism." Dr Broadbent has noted the role of
the internet in the affair, for it made possible the lazy dissemination of
allegations round the world. These could "all be sourced back to one
particular American website" (opposed to the liberal consensus). Those
responsible for passing the allegations on, he said, "despite their lack of
any personal knowledge of the priest they were defaming, were quite prepared
to condemn him out of hand".
In any event, the bishops of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi, by
majority vote at the Court of Confirmation, rejected Mr Henderson as the
next bishop of Lake Malawi on the grounds that he was "not of sound faith".
The retired bishop of Lusaka was chosen instead. The key figure in this
scandal, according to Church Times reports, is the Archbishop of Central
Africa, Dr Bernard Malango. He "is seen as being fêted by the conservatives
of the Episcopal Church of the United States," the paper says. Ordinary
Malawians, by contrast, "bar Malango and fête Henderson". This choice of
terminology gives a new sense to the idea of a church fête. Mr Henderson's
own fêting occurred during a "private" visit to Lake Malawi last month. "I
was carried aloft," he admitted. The "barring" of Dr Malango took place
following an incident during which layfolk, requesting a meeting with him at
diocesan headquarters, "were made to stand outside for two hours".
Eventually they realised the archbishop had left by the back door. The lay
people then "seized the property, changed the locks and declared the
Mr Henderson was impressed. "We can only be humbled by their resolve," he
said. Meanwhile, "parishioners from the diocese have coined a new word
'Malangoism'," the Church Times reported. The characteristics of this -ism
are not defined, but people accuse Dr Malango of "dictatorial tendencies"
and of hoping "after retirement to 'secure a job abroad'." Last August,
according to the Church Times, Dr Malango had dismissed 38 charges brought
against Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare in an ecclesiastical court,
including "incitement to murder". The paper reported that Bishop Kunonga
left the court "crowing" and later "boasting of his friendship" with Dr
Malango and "of having carte blanche to do what he liked", whatever that may
be. In Dr Malango's own diocese, the paper says, "turmoil reigns".
Meanwhile, Dr Malango "is a frequent guest at conservative gatherings in the
United States". The Church Times noted it had failed to reach Dr Malango for
comment. So there it is.