PDF International Religious Freedom Report Country of Zimbabwe

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There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period; however, in certain instances, government officials harassed religious leaders who were critical of government policies, or individuals who spoke out against human rights abuses committed by the government, and organized public rallies centering on social and political issues. Generally the government employed these tactics to maintain a stronghold in politically contested areas.


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As talk of elections in intensified during the reporting period, there were more reports of police using the Public Order and Security Act POSA as a pretext to prevent or disrupt rallies. Taking sides in an internal dispute between factions of the Anglican Church, the government arrested, harassed, and prevented church attendance by Anglican clergy and parishioners of the Church of the Province of Central Africa CPCA. There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

Indigenous religious groups and mainstream Christian churches maintained their differences primarily over doctrinal issues. There were no reported cases of direct confrontation or hostility between the two groups in the reporting period. The U. Section I. Religious Demography. The country has an area of , square miles and a population of 12million.

In its census, the EFZ estimated there were four million Catholics; five million evangelicals and Pentecostals; two million Anglicans, Methodists, and Presbyterians; and more than one million members of apostolic groups. There are a significant number of independent Pentecostal and syncretic African churches.


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  • While the country is overwhelmingly Christian, the majority of the population also believes, to varying degrees, in indigenous religions. Religious leaders reported a continued increase in adherence to indigenous religious practices, often simultaneously with the practice of formalized Christianity. Muslims account for 1 percent of the population and are primarily immigrants of Mozambican and Malawian descent who came to the country as farm laborers.

    Government Religious Preference Collection (2015)

    The Muslim population is concentrated in rural areas, where Muslim-led humanitarian efforts were often organized, and also in some high-density suburbs. The administration has also struggled to revive the economy, and to effectively respond to the outbreak of cholera in August, which killed at least 50 people and infected thousands in Harare. On September 21, police briefly detained Pauline Chateuka, a Community Radio Harare journalist, for filming police officers as they arrested street vendors in Harare.

    On September 19, police also briefly detained Gilbert Nyambavhu, editor of the online publication, New Zimbabwe, and his colleague Idah Mhetu. On September 24, a group of publishers, editors, and journalists met with senior officials of the ruling ZANU-PF party in the Midlands city of Kwekwe to register complaints over cases of intimidation and threats issued against local journalists by some party members. ZANU-PF officials urged journalists to report any cases of intimidation involving party supporters to them.

    These laws were used under Mugabe to severely curtail basic rights through vague defamation clauses and draconian penalties. The parliament has yet to consider these bills at time of writing. Many of the victims continue to struggle to claim rights for reasons unique to their status as widows. Few women formally own the property held during their marriage. As a result, they were unable to keep jointly held property upon the death of their husband. Section 73 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, punishes consensual same-sex conduct between men with up to one year in prison or a fine or both.

    Mugabe told the nation after an electoral process that some British Foreign Office strategists had hoped, as they acknowledged much later, would deny him victory. We must now all of us work for unity, whether we have won the election or not. For all who witnessed the speech, it seemed a remarkable display of conciliation and magnanimity. But the honeymoon was short-lived. Nkomo in and Determined to create a one-party state — the model then for many African countries — Mr. Mugabe dismissed Mr. Nkomo from the cabinet in February after an arms cache was found at a farm owned by a company controlled by Mr.

    PDF International Religious Freedom Report Country of Zimbabwe

    Nkomo and some of his followers. It was the prelude to a much bloodier time, from to , when Mr. Most of the estimated 10, people who died in the campaign were civilians. Less remembered was the election in , when the white minority voted to award Ian D. Smith, the last white prime minister of Rhodesia, 15 of the 20 parliamentary seats that had been guaranteed for whites at Lancaster House. For Mr. Mugabe, the vote in favor of his white nemesis was an affront, a rejection of all his conciliatory gestures that had permitted the white minority to enjoy its sunlit African idyll, almost as if the government had not changed at all.

    It was from that moment, some of his biographers have said, that his commitment to conciliation weakened. In , he oversaw an uneven merger of his party with Mr. Then, later that year, Mr. Mugabe engineered constitutional amendments that scrapped the figurehead presidency enshrined at independence and permitted him to take the title of executive president, combining the roles of head of state, head of government and military commander-in-chief. The changes also abolished the constitutional provisions for the white minority to be guaranteed 20 parliamentary seats.

    On Jan. For much of the s, Mr. Enormous spending on education and health had produced a prosperous and increasingly urbanized country, and he had basked in acclaim — the model leader for postcolonial Africa. Mandela exuded a gravitas and natural authority that Mr. Mugabe could never match, and many believed that his resentment of Mr.

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    Mugabe inward, to nurse his grievances. A new generation of Zimbabweans, the so-called born frees, who had grown up since independence benefiting from expanded education, were now clamoring for jobs that were not there. In a referendum in February on a new Constitution, which would have entrenched Mr. Stunned by the challenge to his monopoly hold on the political process, Mr.

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    Mugabe accused his black opponents of being lackeys of the white farmers who had openly helped bankroll the Movement for Democratic Change, which was led by a former labor leader, Morgan Tsvangirai who died last year. And he accused the farmers and many others in the white minority — whose numbers had fallen to about 70, from a peak of , after World War II — of being agents of British colonialism.

    Parliamentary elections in June further weakened his grip. The opposition won 57 of the parliamentary seats, mainly in urban districts. At the same time, Mr. Mugabe faced increasingly restive veterans of the independence war, a volatile constituency whose state-run pension funds had been looted by government officials.

    When the so-called war vets began invading and seizing farms, Mr. Mugabe, wary of losing even more political support, not only did little to stop them; he actually encouraged them, even though most were too young to have fought in the independence struggle. The post-independence effort to redistribute land had gone slowly, with neither Britain nor Mr.

    Mugabe nor the white farmers pushing to resolve the issue. Twenty years after independence, a white minority, accounting for less than 2 percent of the population, still controlled more than half the arable land. By , although Mr. Mugabe had promised new land for , black families, only 71, white households had been resettled. Then came a dramatic turn. Starting around , Mr.

    The campaign took a huge toll. The violent agricultural revolution had come with a heavy price: The economy was collapsing as farmland fell into disuse and peasant farmers struggled to grow crops without fertilizer, irrigation, farm equipment, money or seeds.

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    Food shortages, at first ascribed to drought, only worsened as farmers were forced to stop farming. When food aid arrived, people who had opposed Mr. Mugabe said government officials had denied them handouts to punish them. Mugabe offered other African leaders a quandary: How could they oppose his policies or pressure him toward change without being seen by their own followers as traitors to the anticolonial cause?

    For his part, Mr.

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    Religious Freedom Report

    Mugabe was in no mood to cooperate with them. I fought for Zimbabwe, and when I die I will be buried in Zimbabwe, nowhere else. It was not mere rhetoric. Mugabe sensed that few if any African leaders would publicly oppose him, any more than Western powers, including the United States, would seek to force him out militarily. In other words, no one knew how to make him leave. Regional powers appointed Thabo Mbeki, then president of South Africa, to mediate a political rapprochement, but Mr. Mugabe, the elder statesman and liberation hero, outmaneuvered his younger neighbor.

    South Africa effectively shielded Zimbabwe against Western and African pressure for political and economic reform, and Mr. Mugabe would be offered some kind of escape route.