By Helen Kadirire
Apostolic churches have vowed to resist a mooted by-law by the Chitungwiza Town Council to ban open-air worship.
The proposed by-law is meant to curb health concerns associated with open-air worshipping such as the absence of ablution facilities, noise pollution, imprudent cutting down of trees and lack of time regulation.
Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) president Johannes Ndanga told the Daily News yesterday that they will strongly resist the ban.
“That is dictatorship at work and it will not succeed. We will resist that by-law until the end. We are slowly going back to the colonial era where African churches were banned by the British but traditional churches were left to worship without being harassed. This by-law will be an infringement on our constitutional right to freedom of worship and assembly.
“Consultation is the best way to go and they have to heed our concerns. Just like what they doing with their budget consultation, the same should be done with this by-law.
“All the concerns of toilets and having shelters are being addressed. We want our people to have shade and proper facilities at their places of worship,” Ndanga said.
He said local government authorities should embrace their faith and not treat them like animals who do not deserve anything.
The ACCZ leader said whether it is government or opposition leaders who are spearheading the by-law they should be careful.
“They will not succeed in demoralising the spirit of the church. Chitungwiza and other local authorities should allocate our churches stands the same way they allocate others.
“We will definitely abide by their rules and regulations. We have never resisted the law unless it infringes on our rights,” Ndanga fumed.
Chitungwiza Residents Trust acting director Alice Kuvheya said the residents are against the by-law as it is against their right to worship.
“Some people had established structures such as toilets on the land and to just take that away from them is not fair. They have vowed to resist it the same way Harare residents did,” she said.
The Chitungwiza by-law comes as Harare City Council is yet to get approval of its own ban on open space worship following massive opposition from apostolic churches.
Harare received 22 objections from Pentecostal Apostolic Church, Johane Masowe-Chishanu Apostles, Harare Province Central Fellowship Apostolic Church, Ebenezer Holy Church and the Council of Apostolic Church of Zimbabwe.
In their opposing letters, the churches argued that bars and nightclubs produced more noise than churches yet they were singled out in the by-law. Daily News