Vice-President Inonge Wina has overruled Minister of National Guidance Godfridah Sumaili’s statement in March that she had with immediate effect taken over the registration of churches saying the function was still with the Home Affairs Ministry.

On March 21 this year, Rev Sumaili told Parliament that her ministry had with immediate effect taken over the registration of churches and other faith-based organisations in the country.

Rev Sumaili further revealed that the Registrar of Societies had been ordered not to grant any registration certificates to individuals or organisations wanting to do spiritual work without a strict scrutiny from her office.

But responding to a question from Luangeni PF member of parliament Charles Zulu, who wanted to know whether there had been people arrested for masquerading as religious leaders from 2011 to date and if so, how many had been prosecuted and convicted and what steps had been taken to reduce the number of people masquerading as pastors, Vice-President Wina said the Registrar of Societies was still in charge of the registration of churches.

“In collaboration with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and National Guidance, some of the administrative provisions put in place for the registration of churches and faith based organizations are as follows: (a) first and foremost, the registration of churches and faith based organizations will remain with the Ministry of Home Affairs under the department of the Registrar of Societies as provided for under Chapter 119 of the Laws of Zambia, of the Societies Act. And (b) the new applications will start the process with the Registrar of Societies who will conduct preliminary assessments as follows: (i) they will ascertain the authenticities of the identities of the applicants, (ii) they will conduct security clearance and (iii) they will obtain documentation such as the Constitution and a recommendation letter from a recognized church mother body to which they can be inclined,” said Vice-President Wina on behalf of Home Affairs Minister Steven Kampyongo.

“(c) The Registrar of Societies will submit the file to the Ministry of National Guidance who will (i) conduct further scrutiny and screening and (ii), submit their feedback to the Registrar of Societies within a given time frame to register or not to. The Ministry of Home Affairs will be extremely thorough in handling applications for permits and VISAs in order to keep away fake people who may wish to abuse the freedom of religion and the declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation for their clandestine activities.”