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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


MUTANGI, Tarisai. Religion, law and human rights in Zimbabwe. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2008, vol.8, n.2, pp.526-545. ISSN 1996-2096.

This article is an audit of the interplay between religion, law and human rights in Zimbabwe. It examines key issues such as the legal framework in place for the protection of freedom of conscience, including court jurisprudence, the religious demography of Zimbabwe, and the place of religion in politics, education and the Zimbabwean lifestyle. It also scrutinises the co-existence of ideologically antagonistic practices, such as Pentecostal Christianity versus indigenous beliefs and practices. The article argues that the subject of religion is not a sensitive one in Zimbabwe, hence it does not easily occur in political or general debates. Drawing from his own experiences, the author concludes that, apart from looking after spiritual needs, churches play a significant role in subsidising the state's obligations in the provision of socio-economic rights such as health, education and food. For this reason, churches have an important place in national politics as partners in development. The article concludes by citing problematic areas involving religion and politics, such as child marriages practised in certain religious groupings. The author also notes the harassment of church leaders who express their alarm about the political and economic melt-down of the country. This is another problem bedevilling a somewhat previously tranquil relationship between the state and religion.

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