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barred from holding camp
July 21, 2005
BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe
government has banned the church from Helensvale Farm holding camp for
Bulawayo families displaced by the government’s clean-up campaign.
Church leaders, who
had sheltered the about 300 homeless people at their churches before their
relocation to Helensvale last week, will now have to seek permission from
Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema to visit the camp, about 20 km north-west
of the city.
The religious leaders
from various denominations had held on to the families, resisting government
efforts to move them to the camp demanding that basic amenities be first
installed at Helensvale and also guarantees they would be allowed to continue
helping the displaced families.
The government agreed
to the churches request only to turn back on its word on Tuesday this
week when state security officials and welfare officers interrupted a
church pastor in the middle of a sermon and told him the church was no
longer welcome at the camp.
Pastor Albert Chatindo
of the Christian Faith Fellowship Church that is among about 20 churches
from Bulawayo that was helping raise aid for the displaced families as
well as ministering among them said the government officials told him
they had been instructed by superiors in Harare to bar churches from the
officials) said I should get off the farm immediately. I had to beg to
go back to get my jacket and Bible," Chatindo told ZimOnline. "The
social welfare officer said they had received instructions from Harare
not to allow churches on to the farm. They said we now have to get clearance
from the governor before going to the farm," he added.
The government’s change
of tack came at a time when a South African Council of Churches delegation
was expected in Bulawayo as part of a countrywide tour of Zimbabwe to
assess aid requirements for people displaced by the government urban clean-up
In the meantime, the
government has also stepped up pressure on displaced people still sheltered
at church halls to leave the halls and go either to Helensvale or to their
A team of police officers
on Wednesday went around Bulawayo churches collecting identification details
and finger prints of people staying at the churches in preparation of
their relocation which sources indicated must take place by Monday next
week. - ZimOnline
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