Mutare mulls rates for churches

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City councillors in this eastern border city are contemplating passing a resolution that will compel churches to pay rates as they have become “big business” in the country.

Churches that were solely used for prayers are exempted from paying rates as they are viewed as non-profit-making organisations.

Contribution during a full council meeting on Wednesday, deputy mayor George Gerrison said the resolution will be sent to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo for approval.

“Churches have become big business because of money and they should be made to pay rates just like any other organisation.

Priests are driving around in flashy cars and wearing expensive trendy designer suits, this shows you they have money,” said Gerrison.

Special interest councillor Hlanganiso Matangaidze concurred with Gerrison, saying: “The Bible says ‘Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar’. Council is being denigrated in churches for not providing services yet they are not paying their rates so they should be made to pay so that service delivery improves.”

While other councillors concurred that churches should pay their rates Ward 17 councillor and chairman for public works Nelson Nezomba believes churches should be exempted from paying rates.

“Let’s not be ungodly because this is a Godly issue we are dealing with. In other cities churches are not made to pay rates. Why should we be the first city in the country to be ungodly? We were created by God. I think we should leave the matter alone,” said Nezomba.

It was later agreed that churches operating nursery schools, private colleges and those engaged in income-generating business should pay rates to council.