Senior Post Reporter
Manicaland Diocese Anglican congregates demonstrated outside the diocesan offices in Mutare last Friday demanding the ouster of their leader — Bishop Eric Ruwona. The congregates levelled allegations of wanton suspension of priests, corruption, maladministration and abuse of church funds against the clergyman. The congregates from different parishes in Manicaland that include St Agnes from (Chikanga), and Holy Name (Sakubva), Mufudzi Wakanaka (Dangamvura) among others gathered at Number 113 Herbert Chitepo in Mutare where they sang and chanted slogans that denigrated Bishop Ruwona.
The demonstration comes hard on the heels of Bishop Ruwona’s $500 000 lawsuit against a church warden who instituted a criminal case against him in September 2018 that resulted in the cleric being arrested and arraigned before the courts on theft charges.
Along with four other senior church members who were implicated in the scam, the bishop was acquitted of all charges after the State failed to prove its case.
Through his lawyers, Maunga and Maanda and Associates, the top cleric is now demanding damages from Joseph Mashingaidze on the basis that he reported the case to the police yet he fully knew that he had not committed the offence in question. Although the congregates last Friday intended to hand over a petition on Friday to Zambia-based Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, Archbishop Albert Chama and the Episcopal Synod of the Anglican Church to intervene in the matter on their behalf. However, Archbishop Albert Chama could not make it to Mutare and held a meeting with representatives of the congregates in Harare instead. Part of the petition in possession of this publication read: “Following several unresolved Diocesan issues dating as way back as 3rd December 2016, the concerned Anglicans are demanding that Bishop Erick Ruwona relinquish his position as the Bishop of Manicaland with immediate effect.”
The congregates’ grievances allege Ruwona’s misappropriation of Diocesan funds. The funds include $450 000 loan from Agribank and $250 000 overdraft from Agribank.
In the petition, the congregates allege that Bishop Ruwona misappropriated $1 098 800.00 school levies collected from September 1 2015 to March 31 2017 among other unverified amounts of school levies collected from April 1 2017 to date. The congregates also allege that there was an embezzlement of $89 000 and $53 000 for Diocesan birthdays. They raised concern over the non-functioning of the Diocesan Standing Committee and Trustee and overall lack of proper communication. Arbitrary transfers and suspension of clergy and the victimisation of elected church leaders and dissolution of church councils, among others were raised. Previously, feuds between supporters and non-supporters of Bishop Ruwona have broken out tearing the fragile diocese apart. The congregates have also complained of Portia Magada whom they allege to have taken charge of the church.
Contacted for a comment, Bishop Ruwona, referred all questions to Mr Ashel Mutungura, who is Anglican Diocese of Manicaland spokesperson.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Mr Mutungura were fruitless at the time of going to print.