THE Constitutional Court is set to hear a constitutional challenge filed by Samson Mabukwa, a member of the Apostolic Faith sect, who recently lost his beast after he was convicted for failing to abide by some African Traditional Religious beliefs.
The 74 year-old Mabukwa, a villager from Zhombe in Kwekwe, Midlands province recently lost one of his beasts after he was ordered by Chief Gwesela, who convicted and sentenced him to pay a beast to the traditional leader as a fine for tilling his land on a “Chisi”, a day set aside for customary activities in terms of African Traditional Religious beliefs.
Mabukwa was convicted by Chief Gwesela at a Community Court convened in Zhombe despite his plea that he does not ascribe to African Traditional Religion as he is a Christian under the Apostolic Faith sect.
This prompted Mabukwa’s lawyer, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to intervene and challenge Chief Gwesela’s practice.
On Wednesday 26 July 2017, Jamela filed an application in the Kwekwe Magistrates Court requesting for a referral of the matter to the Constitutional Court for a determination of some questions especially when customary law seems to be clashing with fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and Magistrate Vimbayi Mutukwa granted the application.
Jamela argued that the indiscriminate application of African Traditional Religious beliefs to all citizens within Chief Gwesela’s jurisdiction is a violation of Mabukwa’s freedom of conscience as guaranteed under section 60 of the Constitution.
Section 60 of the Constitution provides that; “Every person has the right to freedom of conscience, which includes freedom of thought, opinion, religion or belief and freedom to practise and propagate and give expression to their thought, opinion, religion or belief, whether in public or in private and whether alone or together with others.”