Council to review church policy

churchInnocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter
Harare City Council is set to review its policy on valuation of land earmarked for churches after realising that most of the institutions have turned commercial.

In an interview, environment management committee chairperson Councillor Herbert Gomba said according to the city’s by-laws and the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, stands are supposed to be used for the purposes they were zoned for.

“We have seen that churches and other institutions are using their stands for educational purposes, meaning they have turned commercial. We are now saying these entities should be looked at in a different manner.

“We will propose to council that it reviews valuation of such land. Those angered will revert back to the land’s original use.

“There is no reason why we cannot charge commercial rates for land used for other purposes,” he said.

Church stands are sold at a lower price than commercial stands as they offer social services.

The committee on finance and development committee also expressed the need to review the policy on valuation of land for church, crèche and sporting club purposes after noting that they have turned into commercial entities.

“The committee resolved that acting city valuer and estates manager considers the need to review the policy on valuation of council land earmarked for church, crèche and sporting purposes and reports to this committee,” read part of the minutes.

The move comes after sports clubs resisted a review of lease agreements signed during the colonial era, which have seen some of the social facilities paying $1 as annual rentals.

Most clubs signed 99-year leases with colonial municipal authorities and some of the agreements are up to 2057.

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