There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the year. Government officials monitored and harassed religious leaders who were critical of government policies, individuals who spoke out against human rights abuses committed by the government, and those who organized public rallies centering on social and political issues. Police continued to monitor church leaders, and there were reports of increasing police intimidation against them as speculation concerning their role in national elections intensified during the year.
According to credible church organizations, police summoned religious leaders to police stations and questioned their activities and funding sources. Police warned them against organizing public rallies without police clearance, which resulted in some religious organizations exercising caution by applying for prior police approval for their public events. The government viewed suspiciously any organization, including missionary organizations, that it considered to be politically motivated and warned them from meddling in the country’s internal politics.
Some missionary organizations occasionally experienced significant delays implementing humanitarian relief activities and having their work permits issued. According to a reputable Christian umbrella group, the government continued to interfere with efforts of religious organizations to provide humanitarian assistance, particularly in areas where ZANU-PF was trying to strengthen its presence.
The government routinely invoked POSA to prevent or disrupt public gatherings, including public events and prayer rallies organized by religious groups. Government officials monitored and harassed religious leaders who were critical of government policies. They also monitored and harassed individuals who spoke out against human rights abuses and who organized public rallies centering on social and political issues.
There were abuses of religious freedom against members of the CPCA in the Harare, Masvingo, and Manicaland Dioceses. The government, through the courts and government security agents, continued to arrest and harass Anglican clergy and parishioners from the CPCA. They prevented its members from worshipping and conducting services at CPCA properties and other venues.
The legal dispute between the CPZ and CPCA over the ownership of CPCA Harare Diocese property continued in court. A Supreme Court decision in August 2011 in favor of the CPZ resulted in a spike of government harassment and evictions. The High Court and Supreme Court had not ruled on the CPCA’s application to suspend the eviction order and other pending applications at year’s end.
On November 16, approximately 20 CPZ priests attempted to take over CPCA’s regional seminary in Harare, Bishop Gaul College, pursuant to an eviction order granted by the Supreme Court in August. Police summoned both parties to the police station but declined to settle the matter, arguing the conflict was a matter internal to the Anglican Church. The CPZ occupiers left after two days of passive resistance from the resident CPCA priests and seminarians. The courts had not ruled on the CPCA’s application to suspend the eviction order and other pending applications at year’s end.
In October there were reports that followers of the CPZ leader Nolbert Kunonga, a ZANU-PF supporter and former CPCA bishop, occupied church vestries and turned them into residential homes in Marondera. In mid-September police officers in Harare evicted CPCA parishioners from their newly-built church. The parishioners claimed they built the church using donations by members after being evicted from their former church in 2007 by Kunonga supporters. A Kunonga-allied CPZ priest and his family were reportedly occupying the church at year’s end.
On October 10, the High Court ruled in favor of the CPCA Manicaland Diocese by granting a provisional order against Elson Jakazi, an excommunicated bishop of the CPCA Manicaland Diocese, from taking over more CPCA properties. Jakazi, reportedly following Kunonga’s example, had left the CPCA earlier.
Police also restricted religious assembly. For instance, police, in support of CPZ leader Kunonga, barred the CPCA from hosting its annual three-day pilgrimage to a shrine, scheduled for July 29-31. On July 28, the High Court ruled that the CPCA and the CPZ’s Kunonga must share the venue for the celebration. On July 31, an emboldened Kunonga made public statements on national television claiming ownership of the shrine and an additional 78 church properties in Masvingo province.
On January 28, police arrested eight members of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, a faith-based organization, for conducting a meeting without police clearance. Among the detainees was Ray Motsi, the chairperson of the organization. On January 31, the magistrate’s court released all members on bail. The case was still pending at the end of the year.