Bishop asked to resign over alleged fraud

The Anglican Church of Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam Bishop, Dr Valentino Mokiwa, has been asked to resign to pave the way for a committee to investigate accusations of fraud and abuse of office.
The church, through a letter signed by Chief Bishop Jacob Chimeledya, says Bishop Mokiwa was asked to step down after he had failed to assist in an investigation of fraud amounting to over Sh200 million in connection with a special account opened at the Dar es Salaam Commercial Bank (DCB).
The bishop is also accused of failing to supervise church assets in collaboration with other church organs by allowing the leasing of 200 hectares of land in an allegedly shady contract.
Dr Valentino Mokiwa had however, rejected a call to resign.
Dar es Salaam Diocese Information and Communication Officer Yohana Sanga said the bishop had rejected the call, saying the church constitution had been violated.
He said members of a standing committee who convened in the city had rejected a letter presented by Dr Chimeledya because it lacked approval of the Synod, the Permanent Council and the House of the Bishops.
“The church constitution requires that these organs give an approval if a bishop has been asked to resign. Therefore, Dr Mokiwa maintains his position as the Bishop of the Diocese of Dar es Salaam and believers should cooperate with him,” he said in a telephone interview.
In the letter, Dr Mokiwa is accused of allowing the opening and operation of a DCB account going under the name Diocese of Dar es Salaam Evangelism opened at the Buguruni Branch with transactions showing Sh216 million was deposited and withdrawn over a short period.
“Unfortunately, nobody knows how the money from the account was spent. But, Diocesan Bishop Mokiwa, Diocesan Administrative Secretary, the Reverend Canon John Mhina and Director of Evangelism, the Reverend Fr Paul Mtweve, were the sole signatories” reads the letter in part.
Dr Mokiwa’s administration is accused of leasing 200 hectares of land number 2689 at Plot Number 7977 located at Mtoni Buza after signing an agreement with Lamada Hotels and Apartments in October 24, 2011 to construct residential buildings and shopping malls.
The bishop is accused of poorly supervising the distribution of land to church officials.
“The administration changed the use of the land. Instead of residential housing they built business stalls, fuel stations, an Inland Container Depot (ICD), a school, a church and farms contrary to Circular Number 1 of 1995, giving such powers to the Ministry of Lands,” says a letter.
Dr Chimeledya says a special committee was also formed to investigate other issues that led to escalated disputes in the diocese.
He said by failing to cooperate with the committee, Dr Mokiwa violated Article 17 of the church’s constitution of 1970 as amended in 2004.
“He has also violated the Trustee Incorporation Act 318 that requires endorsement of trustees in the purchase, sale or change of ownership to properties and for this aspect the House of Bishop” he says in a letter.

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