Church organisations are converting Bulawayo industrial premises into churches, as efforts to revive the city’s industry fail to bear fruits.

The city’s Central Business District (CBD) is also littered with Pentecostal church groups that are taking over most of the vacant premises left by shut down companies and converting them into places of worship, much to the chagrin of the unemployed residents.

Self-proclaimed prophet, Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Families International church attracted the ire of many residents after they took over Mills Textile company premises in the city and converted part of it into a church.

The company used to employ over 1 000 workers but now employs less than 200 owing to lack of capital coupled by the poor economic environment.

A drive to the industrial sites reveals a grim scenario where posters of big companies have been pulled down and replaced by those belonging to churches.

Director of Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Reverend Useni Sibanda blasted some church organisations saying they were worsening the economic situation by taking over industrial premises and converting them into churches.

“Instead of churches taking over industries, they should actually be working on reviving the industry because church service cannot substitute production of labour,” said Sibanda in his solidarity message at the Workers Day commemorations in Bulawayo.

“We believe that when God created man, he created labour and labour is part of the means of production.

“Many people, especially in Bulawayo, are not able to sustain their families. The church’s goal should be to make sure that people survive,” said Sibanda.

“Part of churches’ role is to help revive industry and we cannot help people by taking over the empty buildings. By taking and filling them with people, we are actually worsening the situation.

“They must instead build their own premises where they do church business.

“How do people survive if we are to take over all the buildings,” he said.