SHADOWY Zanu PF church affiliates have accused the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) of intimidating their members after the latter raided “bush churches” for allegedly fouling the open spaces in Bulawayo.

The MRP has been conducting raids on unregistered open air churches, most of which using open spaces.

The pressure-group-cum-political-party said its campaigns were targeted at open air churches operating without ablution facilities, hence fouling the environment.

According to MRP, some of the bush churches were conducting hair-raising rituals.

In a statement, Vapostori4ED, MaZion4ED and the National Judicial Council of Vapostori accused the MRP of harassing and intimidating their members.

“We have noted the recent incidents that happened in Bulawayo, especially in Cowdray Park, where the MRP took the law into its own hands and falsely pretended to carry out a clean-up campaign, yet they were targeting Vapostori and MaZion worshippers in open spaces and refusing them their constitutional right to freedom and region,” the statement read.

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“The second republic has given the people of Zimbabwe the right to worship and only the government of Zimbabwe and Bulawayo City Council have the right to exercise due procedures and processes when dealing with the [open] space churches and believers.”

The Zanu PF affiliates said a number of apostolic sects had applied for land from the Bulawayo City Council to regularise their places of worship.

“Our Vapostori and MaZion believers are abiding by health requirements with the assistance of environmental health technicians in building ablution facilities at their shrines and places of worship,” the statement added.

The churches called for unity and mutual respect among citizens, urging all parties, including the MRP, to refrain from actions that sow divisions and infringe on the rights of others.

MRP president Mqondisi Moyo said their clean-up campaign was not political.

“What type of president would allow such nonsense, where people pollute the environment and claim to have support of a political party and its leader?” Moyo said.

“We do not have anything to do with (President) Emmerson Mnangagwa and the affiliates. This is a clean-up of our Matabeleland bushes.”

Bulawayo deputy mayor Edwin Ndlovu said: “At the moment, I don’t have any details about the issues. Let me find out.”

Council has also been conducting raids on open air churches.

The local authority accuses the churches of littering the environment.

Last month, Vapostori4ED spokesperson Obey Mapuranga pleaded with the government to protect them against harassment by council authorities.

Zanu PF enjoys support among the apostolic sects.