Mthabisi Tshuma, Sunday News Correspondent
CHURCHES in Bulawayo have welcomed the move by President Mnangagwa to once again allow church gatherings to operate within a stipulated time, a move meant to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Acting Minister of Health and Child Care Professor Amon Murwira announced Statutory Instrument 174/20 under the Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 14) on Wednesday.
The gazetted legal statutory instrument amending lockdown regulations by setting the 6pm to 6am curfew, now requires church gatherings to take place not earlier than 8am or later than 3pm. In a snap survey by Sunday News, it was observed that churchgoers who were visibly at their churches were the apostolic sector who had congregated in a bush in Mzilikazi suburb.
Johane Masowe Apostolic Sector leader, Madzibaba Emmanuel Mutumwa said with regards to the stipulated time of operating they will operate up to 1pm to allow congregants time to get home before 6pm.
“As worshippers we welcome the clarification of the new lockdown measures where Government has allowed us to operate within stipulated times from 8am to 3pm. In that regard we will be congregating in groups per two hours and we will be knocking off at 1pm so that people are able to get home in time before the curfew starts. We will observe the health regulations of social distancing, screening upon entry at churches and sanitising,” said Madzibaba Mutumwa.
Association of the Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (AACZ) president, Bishop Tsungai Vushe urged the apostolic sector and all churches in general to follow Government rules and stop having early morning and night services.
“We are grateful for the move because in prayer we can conquer and the Lord is the one who will wipe away the virus. We urge churches who have got all the 10 needed requirements by WHO to operate with the limited number of 50 and also follow the stipulated times. We reiterate that no church is allowed to have the morning and night prayers as that is against the law. Those with no health regulations capacity are urged to first secure those means and then they can operate. Let’s all have unity in order to fight Covid-19,” said Bishop Vushe.
Bishop Vushe said they would be deploying a number of bishops to monitor church congregants around the city so that they follow Government rules.
Apostolic Faith Mission of Portland Oregon regional district superintendent of southern Africa Mr Oniyas Gumbo said, “As our church we live for the right and do the right thing. The regulation by Government is meant to save lives which is a good thing for everyone, our church included. We therefore confirm our commitment to abide by the Government’s regulation stipulating times for the church services.”
Pastor Goodwill Shana of Word of Life Church said the stipulated time will not affect services much.
“For us we are committed to do anything to ensure that our people are safe and stay between the guidelines of the pandemic. Not much has changed as our congregations are held on Sunday mornings therefore, we are okay with what the situation is like,” said Pastor Shana.