MUTARE – Under pressure and controversial Manicaland Diocese Anglican Bishop Eric Ruwona has allegedly sought protection from Zanu PF heavyweights after restive congregants demonstrated for his ouster and his faction on allegations of wanton suspension of priests, corruption, maladministration and abuse of church funds amounting to over $2m.
This week irate congregants from three perishes in Mutare urban namely, St Agnes from (Chikanga), and Holy Name (Sakubva), Mufudzi Wakanaka (Dangamvura) handed over their petition outlining their griviances against Ruwona.
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 congregant’s grievances allege Ruwona’s misappropriation of Diocesan funds. The funds include $450 000.00 loan from Agribank and $250 000.00 overdraft from Agribank.
In the petition, the congregants allege that Ruwona and his cabal 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 congregants also allege that there was an embezzlement of $89 000.00 and $53 000 for Diocesan birthdays.
They raised concern over the non-functioning of the Diocesan Standing Committee and Trustee and the 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.
In a desperate move to remain in power, Ruwona has approached Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri –Kashiri and Minister of Broadcasting, Media and Information Monica Mutsvangwa for protection.
Mutsvangwa was not immediately available for a comment as she was said to be out of country. Muchinguri was not available for a comment, but,our source revealed that Muchinguri had told Ruwona to back off and carry his cross.
“He has approached Mai Muchinguri and Mai Mutsvangwa for protection and he has said the demonstrating congregants are MDC supporters,” said the source.
“Ruwona must be ashamed of himself because he is a well known MDC supporter himself and those are just the last kicks of a dying horse,” said our source.
Last Sunday, Ruwona ordered the closure of St Agnes Anglican church in Chikanga alleging that it was the main source of problems haunting his leadership.
Congregants had to pray outside the locked church, but the anti- riot police later came and opened the doors for the congregants who completed the service under heavy guard from the police, as Ruwona’s faction had hired thugs to beat up the congregants.
Previously, feuds between supporters and non-supporters of Ruwona have broken out tearing the fragile diocese apart.
Worshippers have also appealed to the 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, but, surprisingly, Chama has failed to act, giving speculation that he was involved in the scandals.
The congregants have also complained of Portia Magada whom they allege to have taken charge of the church.
“She has virtually taken over the control of the church and congregants have been raising concerns over this but, Ruwona has been protecting her,” said the congregants.
Contacted for a comment, Ruwona, referred all questions to Ashel Mutungura who is Anglican Diocese of Manicaland spokesperson.
Mutungura described the disgruntled congregants at St Agnes Church as people belonging to erstwhile former Bishop Elson Jakazi who were bent to cause confusion in the church.
Jakazi is a former bishop of the church but was fired by the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) for misconduct.
A protracted court battle ensued between Jakazi and the CPCA resulting in his ouster by the courts.
“Those calling for the ouster of Bishop’s removal are Jakazi people. They have refused to join the church and they are causing confusion.
These are divisive people who do not even pay tithes but are good at talking and causing confusion.
“They do not know the church rules and regulations. They are just ignorant of the church laws and power hungry. It is clearly stated in the Acts of the Diocese,” he said.
“Congregants know the correct channels of expressing their unhappiness. Those with concerns should come forward and present them with proper procedures,” Mtungura said.