Tanzania has threatened to revoke the registration of religious organisations that mix religion with politics after a cleric criticised President John Magufuli’s leadership in a Christmas sermon.
Opposition leaders in Tanzania said tolerance for dissent had been rapidly disappearing since Magufuli took office in late 2015 and pledged to reform East Africa’s third-biggest economy and crack down on large-scale corruption.
Tanzania’s constitution protects freedom of worship, but religious organisations must register at the country’s Home Affairs Ministry to get licence to operate legally.
The Permanent Secretary in that country’s Ministry of Home Affairs, Projest Rwegasira, said “recently, some leaders of religious societies have been using their sermons to analyse political issues, which is contrary to the law.
“Any violation of the law could lead to cancellation of the registration of concerned religious society.”
The warning was issued just days after the head of a Pentecostal church in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam criticised Magufuli’s leadership, saying his government was closing democratic space.
Zachary Kakobe, self-proclaimed bishop and founder of the Full Gospel Bible Fellowship Church, accused the Tanzanian government of “quietly turning the country into a one-state rule by systematically banning political activity.”