Last month RelZim.org featured an overview of legal procedures required in order to register a religious community in Zimbabwe. Following the publication, a pastor, whose Church plans to plant a religious community in Bulawayo, approached us and wrote that Ministry of Social Welfare do not register Churches as PVO.
We asked an attorney in Harare Pauline Mapepa for further clarifications on the issue. Here’s the reply of our expert:
“At the moment, there is no board that governs the registration of Churches in Zimbabwe. Most of the Churches have a constitution governing the Church and its members, and they establish a membership and presence using the constitution. The banks accept the constitution of the Church for the purposes of opening a church bank account.
To be on the safe side, though, I have been advising Churches to register Deeds of Trust with the Registrar of Deeds. The advantage with a Deed is that it is, actually, endorsed by the Registrar and that can be an advantage in cases of disputes. You can spell out the founding members and their trustees. Whatever that is bought for the Church as assets can be registered in the Trust. Whatever is built or bought can be donated to the Trust. This can be safer in the long run as all it needs is a change in trustees. And if any one of the trustees die or leave the Church they can be replaced by others. This means that no one person can dispose of the assets of the Church without the consent of the other trustees and the founder. The Deed is registered and, at the same time, the Church has a constitution governing the day-to-day operation of the Church.”
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