The Sunday Mail
Churches, wedding venues and nightclubs in Harare where noise exceeds “acceptable levels” could soon be penalised if proposed new by-laws are adopted.
Town House has submitted the proposals to Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere for approval.
Though The Sunday Mail could not establish the penalties and how “acceptable noise levels” will be determined, a gazette with the guidelines will soon be published.
In early 2015, council published these and other by-laws in the Press, soliciting residents’ input.
Apostolic churches made 22 objections to the envisaged open air worship ban; with some residents of Ashdown Park, Sally Mugabe Heights, Mbare and Belvedere suburbs shooting down the noise regulations.
The Apostolic Churches’ Council of Zimbabwe, in particular, warned against infringing on freedoms of worship and assembly.
However, the local authority resolved to pass the by-laws on the strength of concerns around noise pollution and the health implications of open air worship.
The latest full council minutes quote chamber secretary Ms Josephine Ncube saying the by-laws tally with global trends.
In South Africa, for instance, the Environment Conservation Act empowers local authorities to control noise, with offenders liable to a fine not exceeding R20 000 or up to two years imprisonment.
Ms Ncube said, “With respect to the objection on the Constitution violations, it was respectfully submitted that what council was doing was not tantamount to infringing on the freedom of worship and assembly.
“Council was simply regulating open space worshipping on its land. Furthermore, rights could not be enjoyed in a manner that violated the rights of other citizens or residents.”
She added: “There have been concerns regarding the noise that emanated from the night vigils and also the health implications of having people worship in places where there are no ablution facilities. This had to be regulated. The objection could not, therefore, be acceded to.
“Lastly, the objection that the by-laws sought to single out churches could not be acceded to because council also was in the process of enacting noise by-laws which would regulate noise in other areas such as public meetings, weddings, road shows.”
Council also repealed the Harare (Meat) By-laws (1976), replacing them with a provision to prosecute those who slaughter livestock in undesignated areas.
There are also new measures to restrict the number of dogs one can own at a single property.
Further, Harare Omnibus Amendment By-laws 270 of 1977 were altered to read, “The amendments seek to punish both the operator and the passenger at undesignated picking or dropping sites.
“Again, the (previous) by-laws prohibited picking up passengers at undesignated places by operators, yet the same passengers standing at undesignated places go scot free.”