The “holy war” over the banning of open-air worship has turned political with Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Governor and Resident Minister Cain Mathema (Zanu PF) squaring up against the MDC-T-led council over the issue.
On Tuesday, a delegation from some of the affected churches met with Mathema and voiced their concerns over the treatment they were allegedly receiving from Bulawayo City Council (BCC).
The churches claimed BCC was threatening to fine them $20 per head for anyone caught at the open-air prayer sessions around the city.
They also told Mathema, the Zanu PF deputy national spokesperson, that BCC had given them an ultimatum to leave their areas of worship within seven days, without providing them with alternative stands on which to build their churches.
Mathema, a sworn enemy of the incumbent BCC, did not waste time and immediately took up the cudgels on behalf of the churches.
“It’s true, I had a meeting with some church representatives and they told me they have been given letters to leave the areas they worship from but I believe it’s unfair,” Mathema told NewsDay.
“This nonsense has to stop.This council is not providing land for building of churches, houses, commercial business centres and so on.
They say there is no money for such developments but they are the ones, as MDC-T, who invited the sanctions that are causing all these problems. They should not heap the blame on the citizens of Bulawayo.”
Mathema said he told the churches to go about their business until the local authority provided them stands to build their churches.
“What is even worse is that the Western or so-called formal churches are being given land to build yet these African churches that were despised by the colonialists are still bearing the brunt of colonial laws against them,” Mathema fumed.