Ishmael Maukazuva, an MDC Alliance councillor has complained against Chikomba District Administrator Michael Mariga who he accuses of forcing him to swear by the Bible during last week’s swearing in ceremony at the council offices.
Maukazuva who is an electrician with the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is a Moslem and had made prior request for the Koran to be provided for him during the swearing in ceremony.
Zanu PF councillors called for his immediate recall when he refused to hold the Bible.
Maukazuva was then ordered by Mariga to take the oath while holding a bible. He gave in but murmured his pledges in disappointment.
Mariga said, “I did not force him to swear by the Bible, he did it willingly,” when asked for a comment.
He later on called The Mirror and changed his statement saying that the acting CEO was handling the swearing in and he was a mere observer before accusing The Mirror of trying to tarnish his image.
Maukazuva who is a councillor for the first time said that he held the Bible because he didn’t want to be at war with the DA. He said that he was however very hurt and felt abused.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe allows for freedom of worship and it is therefore illegal for anyone to force someone to join a religion against his or her wish.
“I am not a Christian. I am a Moslem who is loyal to my religion. I gave in to the demands of the DA just for the sake of the electorate, whom I didn’t want to upset. I will however perform a cleansing ritual on myself after this incident,” said Maukazuva.
Constitutional lawyer Tawanda Kanengoni said “Forcing the councillor to take the oath in a way which is against his religion was a deprivation of his freedom of worship inshrined in the constitution.”
Section 60 (2) of the Zimbabwean Constitution states that ‘No person may be compelled to take an oath contrary to their religion or belief or to take an oath in a manner that is contrary to their religion or belief’.
Meanwhile, Ward 17 Councillor Israel Dhikinya of Zanu PF was unanimously elected Chikomba RDC chairperson after another nominee, Learnmore Mufamba withdrew from contesting.