Open-air churches blamed for erratic rains in Byo

Bulawayo councillors have blamed the erratic rains in the city on the mushrooming of various open-air churches that use open spaces and bushes as their places of worship.

This is not a new phenomenon as the local authority has struggled to regulate the operations of these churches, especially the apostolic sect.

For a city battling perennial water shortages, the city fathers believe the problem might be spiritual.

“The city is now dominated by flags of different churches, this is why we are no longer receiving rain. The churches are affecting the rainy season and they are also spreading cholera because they are using the bush as ablution facilities, I am saying let us protect our veld, let’s remove these churches from the city,” said deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube during a full council meeting on Wednesday.

Ward 27 Councillor, Alderman Siboniso Khumalo said it is difficult to deal with these churches as they get protection from powerful political leaders.

“Those churches apply for stands and the housing department gives them but the challenge is when political leaders go to those churches. They have to apply for stands and be given so that they do not use the bushes. Even when they get those stands, they should put up toilets,” said Alderman Khumalo.

Alderman Khumalo admitted that the local authority did not have the muscle to deal with the matter and appealed to the government to intervene.  

“We are appealing to our government to assist us to remove them because they are now everywhere and the concern is that they do not have toilets and environmentally they are destroying our city,” he said.

Meanwhile, ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora said there is a need to establish the cause of the mushrooming of the open-air churches.

 “We are shocked whether it’s worshipping or money because we must establish the cause of having so many churches and come up with a solution. Let me suggest that as council, let’s write to these churches to say they should vacate those sites. Let us engage someone like a debt collector who will go around removing these people because I am tired of the complaints of these churches, we will end up removing these churches on our own as a community,” said Cllr Chigora.

 He said they should also use the same methods they used to remove the vendors from the streets.

“My community respects the environment, they respect trees, they respect rocks, they respect hills and mountains. Let’s engage someone to round up these churches just like we did in George Silundika, let’s do that and deal with this problem once and for all,” said Cllr Chigora.

However, ward 21 councillor Tinevimbo Maphosa said there is a need to engage the churches and educate them on the laws that govern the city.

“They must abide by such rules so that we are not seen to be against them or against their freedom of worship,” said Cllr Maphosa.

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