Harare City Council will not tolerate churches that violate the capital city’s by-laws, especially against noise pollution, and will soon clamp down on religious groupings on the offside.

According to the Harare (Noise Amendment) and (Control of Worship in Open Spaces) by-law, it is illegal to worship and make noise in open spaces. Harare – like most towns and cities countrywide – has witnessed the sprouting of open air worship, mostly in undesignated areas.

The activities, have in most cases, been accompanied by musical instruments, much to the annoyance of residents. In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the local authority would not hesitate to ban all churches that break the law.

“Council will repossess stands from churches that fail to use it,” he said.

“If they breach their contracts, then council has no option, but to intervene with corrective action.

“The city fathers respect the right to belong to a religion and we want it to flourish, but we are against noise pollution in the name of gospel.

“Churches are disturbing other people’s peace by their public address systems and musical instruments.”

Mr Chideme said religious gatherings that use electronic sound systems should soundproof their buildings. He said all churches that had been allocated council land should erect permanent buildings in accordance with the city’s by-laws.

Mr Chideme also encouraged street preachers to seek permission from businesses around the areas they minister from.

“It is not right to make noise in the streets and this also applies to street preachers.”

However, in an interview last week Elshaddai International Ministries Apostle Patience Hove questioned Harare City Council’s threats arguing they were tantamount to violating freedom of worship.

“I don’t think worshipping God is noise pollution, but churches should only be cautioned so that their sound does not disturb others,” she said.

“Zimbabwe is a Christian country hence clamping down on churches in the name of noise pollution will not be fair at all.”Sundaymail