May 22, 2003

No more churches this year in Windhoek

The City of Windhoek has slapped a moratorium on the building of new churches in the capital until next year. This apparently follows about 50 complaints over the last month about the worship practices of certain denominations and when these are carried out. Many of the complaints are also said to be related to activities carried out in residential homes, which have been illegally converted into churches.

The City's Chief Executive Officer, Martin Shipanga, told a media briefing on May 21 that while it takes into account constitutional provisions on the freedom of religion, it needs to consider all its residents. The municipality says it has noted an increase in the rate at which churches are mushrooming in the city. Between 1999 and 2001, 23 erven were sold to churches. In the last year alone, 16 applications were received.

Over the next few months, the City plans to revise its policy on churches. The new policy will be more stringent on the location of churches and the terms and conditions for the application of erven. Following the implementation of a revised policy, churches will have to compete for erven set aside for this purpose. The City says it will no longer allow churches to buy open erven in residential areas, which have been designated for children to play on or for walking dogs. (The Namibian, Windhoek)


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