by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE’S Constitutional Court is set to rule on a centuries-old tiff between traditionalists and Christians linked to traditional beliefs ordering rural dwellers not to work on Wednesdays.
The challenge comes over a decade after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) outlawed a decades-old tradition by banks to close at noon on Wednesdays to allow executives to play golf.
Samson Mabukwa (74), a member of the Apostolic Faith sect, has filed a landmark traditionalism-versus-Christianity challenge in court after a local chief fined him a beast for “failure to abide by some African traditional religious beliefs.”
Chief Gwesela has penalised Mabukwa leader as a fine for tilling his land on a Wednesday, a day set aside for customary activities in terms of African traditional religious values.
Mabukwa has been convicted at a community court convened in Zhombe, Midlands Province despite his plea that he does not ascribe to African traditional religion because he is a Christian under the apostolic faith sect.
This has prompted Mabukwa’s lawyer, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to intervene and challenge Gwesela’s ruling.
Jamela argued the indiscriminate application of African traditional religious beliefs to all citizens in Zimbabwe was a violation of citizens’ freedom of conscience as guaranteed under section the constitution.
“Every person has the right to freedom of conscience, which includes freedom of thought, opinion, religion or belief and freedom to practise and propagate and give expression to their thought, opinion, religion or belief, whether in public or in private and whether alone or together with others,” the constitution states.
Zimbabwe’s apex court has not set a date for the hearing.
Christianity is the dominant religion in Zimbabwe. An estimated 76 percent of the 12-million population are Christian.
– CAJ News