ZimRights beats hasty retreat after gaffe

via ZimRights beats hasty retreat after gaffe 17 July 2014

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) on Thursday beat a hasty retreat after a major public relations gaffe relating to the registration of churches.

Early this week, the rights lobby group welcomed reports that government was moving quickly to establish a law that would force religious bodies to register in order to operate in the country.

The move had been inspired by the imprisonment of cleric Robert Martin Gumbura of the RMG church after he was convicted of a plethora of rape cases.

“We welcome the move by government to register churches,” ZimRights said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“The story of Robert Martin Gumbura, a church leader who was recently jailed for abusing many women in his church is a reflection of the human rights abuses which can go unnoticed as they are orchestrated by church leaders.

“As a human rights lobby group, we urge local Churches to observe the Zimbabwean laws and help in the fight against abuse.”

However, hours later, the group made a sensational summersault apologising for the gaffe.

“ZimRights sincerely apologises for and thereby retracts the statement citing the welcoming of the move by government to register churches,” the group said.

“As a human rights group, we believe that the practice of religious freedoms should be free of any intrusion by the state. Citizens must be able to enjoy their religious freedoms without any form of state regulation; and if any, religious groups must be self-regulatory.”

The country’s new constitution guarantees freedom of religion and recognises traditional customs as well.

ZimRights is a longstanding rights defender and has been accused by President Robert Mugabe of being conduits of the West’s regime change agenda.

Disgraced cleric Gumbura was caged for 40 years for his crimes and is currently on trial for yet more rape cases relating to his relationships with female members of his church.