A chief of Mutasa district, Manicaland, reportedly forced his subjects to pay US$25 each per property for a traditional rain ceremony known as Mukwerera at Shona in the Honde Valley.
This emerged in court where Mutasa magistrate Artwell Sanyatwe issued a ruling prohibiting Haudikuvanda A village chief Tonderayi Mandeya from forcing villagers to fund the rain ceremony.
In September 2021, Mandeya banned some villagers, who are devout members of the Apostolic Faith Church, from practicing their faith in their shrine after they refused to pay money for the traditional ceremony.
Through their lawyers Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the villagers filed a petition in the Mutasa Magistrates Court in March this year challenging Mandeya’s decision.
In the application, the villagers argued that forcing them to pay US$25 for a traditional rain ceremony was contrary to their religious beliefs and violated their fundamental right to freedom of religion.
Sanyatwe ruled in their favor by ordering Mandeya to stop banning villagers from practicing, propagating and expressing their religion on the site of their Casa Banana church.
Sanyatwe also forbade Mandeya from asking villagers for money for rain ceremonies.