Bishop Eric Ruwona, the head of the Anglican Church’s Manicaland Diocese, who was arrested by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on Tuesday on fraud charges after he allegedly secured loans worth US$700 000 for personal use using church property as collateral security, yesterday appeared before the magistrate court and was remanded on bail.
It is the State’s case that the Bishop, acting along with other three alleged accomplices who are still at large, hatched a plan to defraud Anglican Diocese of Manicaland of thousands of dollars.
On February 26, 2016, they allegedly fraudulently applied for a US$100 000 loan from Agribank, claiming the money was for the construction of St Catherine’s Girl High School in Rusape and the purchase of a vehicle for the bishop.
They offered church land situated at stand number 78 Mutare Township as collateral security without the knowledge of the standing committee and congregants. As a result of the misrepresentation, the loan was approved, and the accused received the proceeds.
During the same month, they allegedly secured another loan of US$350 000 from Agribank using the same modus operandi.
Sometime in 2017, the accomplices fraudulently applied for a bank overdraft of US$250 000 from Agribank also without the knowledge of the standing committee and the congregants.
The accused persons’ conduct caused an actual prejudice of US$700 000 which the graft body, as represented by prosecutor Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira, said was not used for its intended purpose.
Bishop Ruwona who was initially represented by Messrs Ashel Mutungura and Passmore Nyakureba denied the charges and was granted $15,000 bail and will be back in court for trial on January 29.
Presiding magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe ordered the cleric not to interfere with State witnesses, to continue residing at Number 1 Oak Road, Murambi as well as to report once every Friday at Mutare Central Police Station.
Bishop Ruwona is not fairly a stranger to allegations of abuse of office and misappropriation of funds.
In March 2019, church members orchestrated a demonstration that sought to shove him out of office, with the marchers saying they were disgruntled over the Bishop’s mismanagement, misappropriation of resources and intimidation of church members.
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