THE days are numbered for street preachers in central Harare as the city council has threatened a vicious clampdown against the “illegal and ungodly street evangelists”. Harare City Council’s acting corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme issued a stern warning against street preachers, whom he accused of flagrantly flouting by-laws prohibiting such activities.
The council’s warning comes against a backdrop of a proliferation of street preachers who sometimes attract scores of people who — along with vendors selling their wares — block pedestrian traffic.
However, there is an interesting case of a lone preacher who has been sharing the Word to just one for several months at the junction of First Street and George Silundika Avenue.
These preachers — mostly young men — are an everyday feature along First Street and Speke Avenue.
But the Harare City Council has had enough.
“We are very much against this habit of people preaching in the street and wherever we will see them we will ask them to leave that place. These people are now disturbing the peace that people should enjoy in the city centre while doing their different activities,” said Mr Chideme.
“That is why we gave them and continue to allocate them church stands, if they want to preach to people they should invite them to church not to invite themselves to the street.”
Are these street preachers genuinely preaching to save souls like what happened in the book of Acts, or are they looking to make an extra dollar?
Some of them are students doing “industrial attachment” as they pursue qualifications with theological schools.
Mr Nyasha Mupanzuri of End Time Message Church said, “The city council is 100 percent correct in not allowing street preaching. But inasmuch as the council is correct, I plead with the city fathers to at least allocate us a certain place and time so we can preach, for example during lunch because people need to be saved.”
He denied street preaching was about making money.
“The main reason why I preach in the street is because many people are getting false doctrines in their respective churches. Therefore, we preach to let people know the true gospel,” said Mupanzuri.
Another street preacher, Emmanuel Sakupwanaya, said the practice was necessary as it contributed to peace-building.
“Most of the preachers are now doing this for money and only a few are preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ,” he added.
Mr Emmanuel Mujiche, a shop assistant working along First Street, said street preachers were helping to save lost souls.
“There is nothing wrong with street preaching, we have seen some of the people attending the sermons getting saved,” he said