A Mutasa Magistrate has ruled in favour of members of the Apostolic Faith Church also known as Mugodhi Church who had been forced to pay US$25 for rain making ceremony by a Honde Valley Headman.
Through their lawyer Kelvin Kabaya from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed an application in March this year seeking an order to stop Headman Tonderayi Mandeya leader from coercing them to pay money for the purposes of holding a traditional rain-making ceremony and not to bar them from expressing their religion at a church site known as Casa Banana.
In the application, the villagers argued that coercing them to pay US$25 for a traditional rain-making ceremony, is contrary to their religious beliefs and violates the fundamental right to freedom of religion guaranteed under section 60(1)(a) & (b) of the Constitution.
The villagers also argued that Headman Mandeya has no such powers to limit their rights & freedoms as he purported to arrogate to himself.
According to the ZLHR the traditional leader the congregants from exercising their faith because they had refused to comply with his demands.
“Tonderayi Mandeya, the Headman for Hamudikuvanda A village in Honde Valley in Mutasa District in Manicaland province, had in September 2021 purportedly banned some villagers, who are devout members of Apostolic Faith Church also known as Mugodhi Church, from exercising their faith at their shrine after they refused to pay US$25 each per household, which sum was meant to fund a traditional rain-making ceremony also known as Mukwerera in Shona,” ZLHR said
According to the ZLHR, Mutasa Magistrate Artwell Sanyatwe ordered Headman Mandeya to stop barring the villagers from practicing, propagating and expressing their religion at their Casa Banana church site.
“Magistrate Sanyatwe also interdicted Headman Mandeya from coercing the Apostolic Faith Church members to pay any sums of money for purposes of traditional rain-making ceremonies as a pre-condition for exercising their faith,” said ZLHR