A clergy wives’ conference has been cancelled following intervention by the Zimbabwe secret police.
On 13 January 2012 the Diocese of Harare was contacted by the management of the Jamaica Inn, a hotel/conference centre outside Harare, informing Bishop Chad Gandiya that agents of the CIO had visited the Inn the night. The manager reported that she had been instructed by the security services to cancel the meeting which was scheduled for later that day.
Bishop Gandiya told SW Radio Africa the manager “sounded traumatized, very, very traumatized by the CIOs and it was sad news indeed for the organizers of the retreat.”
However, “we are not even sure these people were genuine CIOs and I am in the process of drafting them a letter to find out if they sent anyone to Jamaica Inn,” the bishop said.
On 2 Jan the broke up a clergy retreat for the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland held at Peterhouse School. The police stated they were taking preemptive actions to prevent violence at the clergy conference in case supporters of former bishop Dr. Nolbert Kunonga invaded the venue.
The latest police action comes after Bishop Gandiya wrote to the commissioner of police Augustine Chihuri. According to the bishop’s letter, published on 16 Jan by the Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, Bishop Gandiya was arrested by police after he performed a confirmation service on 17 Dec 2011 at St Bernard’s School in Mhondoro.
“After the service two local policemen based at Mamina approached me and asked me, the local priest and our Church Wardens to go to Mamina Police Station because their ‘boss’ wanted to ask some questions about our Service,” the bishop said.
However, two members of the “CID based at Kadoma arrived in the company of their superior with orders from the Mashonaland West Province to investigate us,” the bishop said, taking the bishop, his wife and churchwardens to the police station for questioning.
“Although they said we were not under arrest, technically we were because we now had to have a policeman with us all the time,” Bishop Gandiya said, noting that after interrogation, he was told he was being “charged with ‘contempt of Supreme Court Orders’ that barred us from holding our church service on premises controlled by Dr Kunonga.”
The bishop protested the service had been held at a school unaffiliated with Dr. Kunonga or the Diocese of Harare. It had allowed the bishop to use its facilities as a worship venue, he explained. After being held at the station for the rest of the day, the bishop, his wife and the churchwardens were released “late at night pending further investigations.”
“Why are we being harassed like this,” the bishop asked the police commissioner. “Are we second class citizens in the land of our birth? Like any other citizen of this country we expect equal protection by the law enforcement agents of our Republic,” Bishop Gandiya said.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper edition of January 20, 2012 on p 6.