Zambia ejects UCKG pastors

On the night of Saturday 12th February Zambia’s ministry of Home Affairs ejected pastors Carlos Henrique Antunes Barcelos and Jamir Soares Craveiro from Zambia and sent them back to Brazil, their country of origin. The deportation followed “a storm in a tea cup” judgment passed in favour of the Universal Church in a Lusaka High Court recently; overturning an earlier one banning the church from operating in Zambia on allegations it practiced Satanism and human sacrifice. The church denies the allegations. Police sources said the two pastors were whisked away from their new multimillion dollar Cathedral in downtown Lusaka where they were having prayers. “Yes the Brazilians were deported on Saturday night around 20 hours on grounds of national security . . . they have gone back to their sweet home which is Brazil,” said Home Affairs permanent secretary Peter Mumba. The deportation order for the leaders of Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) was signed by Home Affairs minister Bates Namuyamba. The deportation order said the duo was expelled from Zambia purely “on grounds of national security.” Their families were also given ten days in which to leave, failing which they would also be forcibly sent out of the country. On November 26 last year the UCKG was banned for allegedly practicing Satanism acts that had earlier sparked riots around Lusaka. The two pastors had been given a week in which to leave Zambia. They blocked the move through a court injunction and on January 18 judgment was passed in their favour. They were allowed to continue with their church activities. This was after the Registrar of Societies swore in an affidavit before the High Court that she had erred in her decision to ban the Church. “. . . I also made the decision without prior legal advice of the Attorney General’s Chambers and I have subsequently been advised by the Attorney General’s chambers through the Solicitor General that the procedure I employed in arriving at my decision to cancel the 1st Applicant’s registration was improper. That I depose to all the above from my own knowledge verily believing the same to be true in all respects,” Sakala had told High Court judge Tamula Kakusa. Passing judgment Kakusa then said since the respondent had confessed she had erred, there was no need to drag the case further at the expense of other important cases before the court. “The action has taken a shorter course, and, I believe, it would be accurate to say: ‘the action has come to an amicable conclusion by consent of parties’. It was certainly a storm in a teacup,” said Kakusa. During the hearing their was no mention of the order made by Home Affairs earlier that the two should leave the country within a week after their church had been banned. Officially the UCKG in Zambia remains operational despite its pastors having been deported. During Frederick Chiluba’s reign, the Universal Church was also banned but was similarly saved by the courts. UCKG has had similar experiences with other governments in the world and has been dogged by controversy. Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Belgium Court of Appeal on June 28 last year ordered that a Belgian Parliamentary report painting the church in very dark colours be declared null and void and declared an error as it was drawn up carelessly. The church remains registered in Zambia.

April 2006
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