THE Victoria Falls Municipality has banned open space churches saying they were a nuisance to tourism and a threat to the environment.
A number of churches have sprouted along the highway on the buffer zone, which is reserved as an animal corridor forcing the council to take the bold step.
Town Clerk Christopher Dube announced the move to ban these churches at a full council meeting recently.
Dube said the council felt the proliferation of open space worshipers would have a negative bearing on tourism as they are now a common feature along major roads in the resort town.
“We want to engage them before we take action,” said Dube.
“Churches should operate formally just like any other business. They should apply to use whatever space and people be informed that there will be a church than for them to just take their equipment and start making noise, that is not acceptable here in Victoria Falls.”
He continued: “This even disturbs tourism. There are places where they can go and worship such as the stadium and the local hall. There are open spaces where we can allow churches to conduct services such as crusades and police should be notified as this will be for a specified period not what they are doing.
“For now we don’t want to be confrontational but they should respect the local authority and its by-laws. We will engage them but in the event they don’t take advice we would then take action and they will be arrested,” added Dube.
However the development is likely to invite war between the local authority and open space worshipers, particularly the apostolic sects and the Zionist churches.
A few years ago the Bulawayo City Council clashed with worshipers when the local authority resolved to ban them from worshiping under trees.
The idea was dropped after a stiff resistance from the churches.