Residents up in arms against church

HARARE - Ashdown Park residents are up in arms against Apostle Tavonga Vutabwashe’s Heartfelt International Ministries Church, accusing the church of  noise pollution and illegal dumping of waste in their area.

Residents wanted to know from the council how Heartfelt Ministries were able to change land use and if they had been awarded an Environment Assessment Certificate from Environmental Management Agency (Ema).

Last week, Jessie Majome, the Member of Parliament for the area, convened an urgent community meeting with residents to discuss their concerns.

The meeting was also attended by district officer Maria Mverechena and Ward 16 Councillor Munorwei Mudavanhu.

“The residents are complaining about noise during their services, the ablution facilities and a sharp increase in traffic along Harare Drive,” Majome said.

“As a Member of Parliament, I am concerned with what Harare residents go through and this is for the Harare West Representation and Development Plan which is a co-operative co-ordination of Local Government service delivery.

‘‘This is why I am a member of the Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Committee in Parliament which looks at issues such as local government service delivery.”

During the meeting, Councillor Mudavanhu said Heartfelt Church followed procedure in applying for change of land use after the church bought the piece of land from a private owner in 2010-2011.

“Some residents were approached and an advert was published in the newspaper and there was no objection to the application” Mudavanhu said. “The church was granted permission to build on condition that its centre would be sound-proofed.”

Pearson Mungofa, a resident who lives next to the church,  said, “The church uses only two portable toilets yet there are hundreds of congregates, and these toilets are placed next to my house.

“This waste is being dumped into a manhole in Karen Close, exposing Ashdown Park residents to risk of disease”.

District officer Mverechena promised she would talk to Heartfelt Ministries about the pollution and look at the Heartfelt Ministries application at the district office.

“I am happy there was dialogue between residents and council, and most importantly both parties found each other. I am concerned with the noise, traffic and waste coming from the church.

‘‘However, I am worried about the impact of a 20 000-seater auditorium on a community of only 4 000 to 5 000 people, this will clog the sewer system and expose residents to diseases.”

Efforts to get a comment from Heartfelt Ministries were fruitless.

Residents of Ashdown Park told council they also wanted speed humps along Ashdown Drive, and complained about the environmental and noise pollution commuter omnibus operators make in the area.

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