Dar es Salaam dispute turns ugly

 

Dar es Salaam dispute turns ugly

Author: 

George Conger

The former Bishop of Dar es Salaam, the Rt. Rev. Valentino Mokiwa, has been ordered to appear before an investigatory panel of the Tanzanian Justice Ministry on 3 April 2017 to respond to allegations leveled by the Archbishop of Tanzania that he defrauded his diocese. The 29 March 2017 letter, seen by Anglican Ink, informs Dr. Mokiwa that he has been invited to assist the government in its inquiries after it had “received a complaint from the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania related to the misappropriation of assets …”.

The letter marks an intensification in the battle between the High and Low church parties within the Tanzanian church, that culminated on 7 January 2017 when the Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, the Archbishop of Tanzania, deposed Dr. Mokiwa.

The Dar es Salaam bishop pushed back, first filing a civil lawsuit against Archbishop Chimeledya then demanding the archbishop convene a meeting of the House of Bishops to address the dispute. Dr. Mokiwa withdrew his civil lawsuit in February, seeking vindication in the House of Bishops, where he commands a majority.

Archbishop Chimeledya responded by enlisting the support of the state, which has pressured Dr. Mokiwa to concede defeat -- allies of the former Dar es Salaam bishop tell AI. He also replaced clergy loyal to Dr. Mokiwa in the diocese with his supporters.

As a test of loyalty on 12 March 2017 the archbishop summoned clergy and lay leaders to St Alban’s Cathedral in Dar es Salaam. Dr. Mokiwa reported the dispute turned ugly “when Archbishop Chimeledya came to the Cathedral for what he called to ‘take over the Diocese and to announce Canon Capella as Vicar General’, and to read the 14 page document of ousting me from being the Bishop of Dar” es Salaam.

“It started with announcement through a local Christian radio here, encouraging people to appear in large numbers and that everyone was invited to attend,” Dr. Mokiwa wrote, adding: “When they arrived they found police in uniform and supporters of the Archbishop waiting at both entrances of the Cathedral, with a list of priests and people they claimed to be my supporters. So they started harassing and arresting them and took them to the central Police. Some tried to fight back and ended up getting harsh treatment as you see in the case of Fr. Joseph Alexander Opiyo in one of the photos.” (pictured)

The next day the archbishop held a second meeting at the cathedral and formally removed Dr. Mokiwa’s name from the roll of diocesan trustees. On 14 March 2017 members of the diocesan standing committee loyal to Dr. Mokiwa met at his home and repudiated the archbishop’s purge..

However, the archbishop won the “race to the courthouse”, registering his trustees with the civil authorities,

On 21 March 2017 Dr. Mokiwa reported the archbishop’s allies, by virtue of their now having control of the diocesan corporation, had taken the diocesan “office without consulting with me or asking me to collect my staff.” The bishop’s car was also repossessed leaving him “no transport”.

Dr. Mokiwa concluded his note by writing; “They have said if they see me at the Office, I'll get handcuffed and [they will] arrest me.”

Sources in Tanzania tell Anglican Ink Dr. Mokiwa is returning to civil court, seeking an order compelling Archbishop Chimeledya to call a meeting of the House of Bishops.

CAPA, the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, has now become involved in the dispute. The Most Rev. Albert Chama, Archbishop of Central Africa and chairman of CAPA has ueged the Tanzanian church find an amicable resolution to the dispute. If not, sources in Tanzania believe, Tanzania will be suspended from CAPA. Archbishop Chama declined to respond to questions on his role in the Tanzanian split, and no formal statement has been issued on the Tanzanian question by the pan-African Anglican group.

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