9 July 2012

Zambia: 'Don't Host Illegal Churches'

Registrar of Societies Clement Andeleki has warned head teachers against hosting unregistered churches in school premises for worship because the practice is illegal.

Mr Andeleki said unregistered churches are worshipping in classrooms to avoid remitting revenue to Government.

He said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that his office was aware of head teachers allowing unregistered churches to worship in classrooms without certification.

Mr Andeleki said the head teachers, if arrested, could face more than one year jail sentences if convicted.

All churches in the country, he said, were mandated to be registered with the Registrar of Societies and that those operating without certification from his office were an illegal entity.

He said the law was clear and the Registrar of Societies would ensure churches and other organisations complied with provisions of the law.

"We are aware of some churches operating illegally by worshipping in classrooms when they are not even registered with the Registrar of Societies as mandated by the laws of Zambia.

"I want to warn head teachers from various schools in the country to stop allowing unregistered churches from worshiping because their businesses are totally illegal," he said.

Mr Andeleki said though people had freedom of worship, it was important for them to comply with the stipulated regulations and follow the right procedure to register their organisations.

He said the "dubious" manner in which some senior officials operated their denominations had resulted in some members embezzling church funds and running away because they were not registered.

Mr Andeleki said the office of the Registrar of Societies was being decentralised and that he would ensure the department cracked down on all illegal and unregistered churches.

"My appeal is to all head teachers and Zambians at large to closely work with us and inform us of these unregistered churches operating illegally because our laws are clear," he said.

He appealed to the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education to closely work with the Registrar of Societies to monitor operations of illegal churches in schools.

Recently, Mr Andeleki announced that the Registrar of Societies was owed more than K28.7 billion by various organisations in the country.

He said the United Party for National Development and Islamic Council of Zambia owed the department huge sums of money and were currently being engaged to meet the statutory obligations.

He said the department was facing many challenges in collecting statutory fees and that out of the 38,409 registered societies, only 11, 438 were up to date with annual returns.

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