The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Correspondent
THE Harare City Council yesterday started demolishing illegal structures in Mbare, targeting the Mupedzanhamo Market zone and illegal tuckshops around the bus terminus, as authorities implement plans to bring order to the area.
Plans are afoot to give Mbare a facelift, with the market stalls at Mbare Musika set to be refurbished while other structures such as the suburb’s colonial-era flats will be renovated.
For a long time, Mbare has degenerated into a sea of disorder, with filth and crime turning Zimbabwe’s oldest suburb into a slum.
Space barons are also wreaking havoc at Mbare by selling space to desperate traders, with authorities losing out on millions of dollars in potential revenue.
But under the Second Republic’s plans, Mbare is set to undergo a massive makeover that will see the upgrading of Mbare Musika into a state of the art marketplace, while the old flats will be given a new modern face.
Harare Provincial Development Co-ordinator Mr Tafadzwa Muguti has previously indicated that the Government intends to transform Mbare by unlocking value at the marketplace which is the country’s largest market, particularly for agricultural produce.
When contacted on his mobile phone last night, Mr Muguti said he was not in a position to comment.
Harare City Council spokesperson Innocent Ruwende referred questions to acting Harare Mayor Councillor Stewart Mutizwa whose mobile phone was not reachable.
When The Sunday Mail visited Mbare yesterday afternoon, a council bulldozer could be seen razing down illegal structures such as clothing tables, backyard food outlets and illegal tuckshops.
People that delayed or failed to remove their structures were left counting losses.
Many push carts were seen ferrying some of the wares that were being removed by traders.
Other people were hurriedly removing some valuables such as metal sheets.
Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trusts president Mr Shalvar Chikomba said restoring sanity to Mbare was long overdue.
He said space barons are mostly to blame for the rot in Mbare.
“There is a lot of money being made in Mbare, but it is falling into the wrong hands. The traders whose markets have been destroyed are not always the ones to blame because they buy the space from space barons who pocket the money without remitting a cent to Council or Government to refurbish the area.
here are also some greedy merchants who manipulate processes so as to buy produce from farmers for a song. Council and Government need to get to the bottom of all this if they are to restore order in Mbare because space barons will continue to illegally sell space to desperate vendors.”
Traders whose wares and stalls were razed down cried foul about how the demolitions were done saying they did not have alternative places to carry out their businesses.
Mr Motion Mabubu, a vendor outside Mupedzanhamo, said: “They should open a new place for us because this place was our source of income. At least if they had told us in advance that they were going to come and demolish our tables we would have removed them nicely ourselves because they are expensive for us to erect,” he said.
Another vendor, Mr Ronald Chita, said they had no option but to rebuild their illegal structures at the same place.
“All we want is a place where we can do our business because that is where we get money for our upkeep. Schools will be opened soon and our children want school fees so the money comes from here. We have no option but to start re-erecting our tables here because we have nowhere else to go,” he said.
Another vendor who declined to be named said: “If we could have Mupedzanhamo reopened that would be better because all we want is a place to do our business. We do not want to be chased by the police or to bribe them, all we want is a safe place to do our work.”