In September the Lusaka High Court ordered the Chief Registrar of Societies to reinstate the House of Joy Church, which the registrar had deregistered in 2012 on grounds that the church had engaged in criminal activities and had failed to pay the required registration fees. A member of the church’s clergy was accused of being involved in the murder of a 19-year old student in 2012, which many believed to be a ritual killing. At year’s end, the clergyman’s case was before a local magistrate’s court. The High Court found the government’s deregistration action in this case to be excessive because it penalized the church as a whole for the alleged action of only one of its members. The government appealed the High Court’s decision.
In May the Chief Registrar of Societies revoked the registration of the Sweetheart of Nimbi Church after the Times of Zambia, a government-owned newspaper, published an article that accused the church of promoting nudity and sexual relations among its members. Church members denied the accusations. According to a government investigation, the church had been recommended for deregistration in 1999 for submitting false information, but the government had not carried out the recommendation.
The government and religious leaders met during the year to discuss mutual concerns about the increase of “illegitimate” religious groups (i.e., groups not sanctioned by established religious institutions) and “self-professed” clergy, who were allegedly charging fees for prayers and rituals. In October the Chief Registrar of Societies warned that clergy who engaged in extortion risked having their churches deregistered.
In September the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), whose board is appointed by the government, announced that it would suspend the granting of permits for Islamic religious radio programming until the IBA had consulted with the government, Muslim civil society, and other stakeholders. The IBA Chairman and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting indicated a desire to develop guidelines for Muslim radio broadcasting before continuing to grant permits. Muslim organizations with permits continued to broadcast radio programs without interference. The IBA did not impose similar restrictions on Christian or other religious groups.
In July the minister of gender officiated at the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Banani International Secondary Girls’ School in Chisamba, which is run by the Bahai community. In August the Ministry of Tourism and Arts worked with the Makeni Islamic Society Trust to facilitate worship and support visiting Muslim delegates to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s 20th conference. The government invited leaders from minority religious groups to state funerals and other official functions. The government also met frequently with different religious groups, often holding interdenominational meetings and events.