HomeNewsCouncil demolishes church to pave way for museum

Council demolishes church to pave way for museum

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THE Harare City Council yesterday demolished a church in Warren Park to pave way for the construction of the Museum of African Liberation.

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA

Authorities at the Westview Baptist Church yesterday insisted that they had lawful ownership of the land where the church was constructed.

They said they were shocked when their building was demolished as they have a valid lease agreement with council.

Documents seen by NewsDay show that Westview Baptist Church signed a lease agreement on March 1, 2018 to use stand 10531, which measures
3 100 square meters, for 30 years.

According to a letter dated October 28, 2020, written to the church, the local authority ordered the church to vacate with immediate effect to pave way for a ground-breaking ceremony which would be presided over by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on December 3, 2020.

“Please be advised that the city requests you to vacate the place with immediate effect to pave way for national development. The government is interested in the space bound by Golden Quarry Road, Samora Machel (Bulawayo Road) and Westlea residential suburb, including the old dumpsite to develop a Museum of National Liberation,” part of the letter signed by the HCC acting finance director read.

But chairperson of the church council, Shepherd Mahachi, said they did not vacate the premises despite being given an ultimatum because they had a valid lease agreement with the local authority and were fully paid up.

“We held several meetings with the city council and officials from the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, but there was no concrete agreement on what compensation we would get after we vacate the
premises.

“We were not expecting council to demolish our church as if we were illegal settlers. We are still ascertaining the value of the property destroyed, but we will engage the local authority on the way forward,” Mahachi said.

He said when they received an eviction notice from the city council, they stopped conducting church services, hoping that they would resolve the matter amicably.

Council spokesperson Michael Chideme told NewsDay that he was not on duty when contacted for comment on the issue.

“I will inquire from those who were on the ground and get back to you,” Chideme said.

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