There were no reports of abuses of religious freedom, but the government imposed restrictions that affected members of religious groups. Following a November court decision, there was modestly positive change in the status of the government’s respect for religious freedom. There was a decrease in government monitoring or harassment of religious leaders, religiously-affiliated nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and their members who criticized the government.
The government continued to invoke POSA to prevent or disrupt public gatherings. Compared to previous years, it targeted the public events and prayer rallies of religious groups less often.
The police subjected the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) to increased scrutiny. In mid-November, police broke up a ZCA-sponsored peace meeting in Kezi, allegedly for not having proper clearance. Police demanded that ZCA leaders in Plumtree, Binga, and Nkayi seek permission for holding any meetings, despite POSA’s exemption for religious activities.
Government security agents, ostensibly following a court ruling which was overturned in November, prevented CPCA members from worshipping and conducting services at CPCA properties and other venues in the Harare, Masvingo, and Manicaland dioceses.
In June police blocked CPCA members from attending annual commemorations at the Bernard Mizeki shrine in Marondera at the urging of CPZ founder and ex-communicated Anglican Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga.
In July police blocked efforts by CPCA leaders to hold annual commemorations at the Arthur Shearly Cripps memorial in Chivhu, citing Kunonga’s intention to hold CPZ commemorations at the same time. In both cases, the CPCA had to cancel its annual religious festivals. In September, Kunonga supporters with local police backing twice invaded two CPCA-controlled churches in urban Chivhu.
Despite these incidents, the most notable improvement in the government’s respect for religious freedom this year occurred through the closure of the long-running legal dispute between the CPCA and ex-communicated Archbishop Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and his CPZ. On November 19, the Supreme Court found in favor of CPCA after an almost six-year-long dispute over leadership and related ownership of CPCA’s extensive properties. Although police and local officials had previously supported Kunonga’s faction, police cooperated to carry out eviction orders against CPZ following the November 19 decision.
Most official state gatherings and functions included non-denominational Christian prayers.