BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE High Court yesterday ruled against a Cabinet decision barring unvaccinated congregants from physically attending church services, saying the ban violated citizens’ rights and freedoms.
Government on August 11 ordered churches to reopen in the midst of a level four COVID-19 lockdown, but only for vaccinated congregants, an order that sparked controversy with the churches describing the conditions as discriminatory.
Human rights lawyers immediately challenged the Cabinet decision, with applicant Obert Kondogwe saying compulsory vaccination remained unlawful.
Kondongwe cited Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga and Kumbirai Hodzi, the Prosecutor-General as respondents.
In his interim relief, High Court judge Justice David Mangota said: “The statement issued by the first respondent (Mutsvangwa) on behalf of Cabinet barring unvaccinated sit-in congregants in churches be suspended.”
“Further and as attendant to the foregoing, the conduct of the second responded (Kazembe) in enforcing the statement by Cabinet and conducting arrests and criminal proceedings against unvaccinated sit in church congregants be suspended pending the return to date of this application.”
Justice Mangota said the ban on unvaccinated congregants violated citizens’ constitutional rights and freedom set out in the declaration of rights.
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