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Churches challenge registration directive

by Staff reporter
09 Mar 2023 at 05:22hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT'S decision to register church prophets and bishops has hit a brickwall after some lawyers challenged the directive describing it as unconstitutional.

Government last week ordered traditional healers and church leaders who perform healing sessions to register with the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (TMPCZ) or face two years in jail or a US$400 fine.

But the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Truth, Health, Justice and Freedom (ZLTHJF) argued that the Traditional Medical Practitioners Act under which government promulgated the regularisation of prophets and bishops did not categorise the church as traditional medical practitioners.

"We must state that the position taken by TMPCZ to categorise churches, prophets, apostles and bishops as traditional medical practitioners is a gross misapprehension of the law. First and foremost, we must state that the relevant Act does not define or categorise churches, prophets, apostles and bishops as traditional medical practitioners as purported by the TMPCZ," ZLTHJF argued.

"There is nowhere in the relevant laws that the above are defined as members of the council. The position taken by TMPCZ to mandate and regard churches as traditional  medical practitioners  and force them to be registered as such with the TMPCZ or face jail  in this regard  is tantamount to violating fundamental  rights contained in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and conveys a wrong message to all those who uphold constitutionality and constitutionalism."

Health ministry secretary Jasper Chimedza was not reachable for comment.

Health Ministry spokesperson Donald Mujiri was also not picking calls.

The lawyers said even if government was to craft a law to legalise its order, it remained a violation of the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

"Further it must also be stated that even if there is law presently or in future  which will categorise  churches and prophets as traditional medical practitioners  and require them to register  with TMPCZ, such law will be unlawful  and void for violating  the provision of the Constitution more particularly Section 60,"ZLTHJF said.

They said section 58 of the Constitution gives people rights to freedom of assembly and association.

Source - Newsday Zimbabwe