The Sunday Mail
Greetings, Your Worship! I pray this letter finds you in good health. First and foremost, congratulations on your recent election as the Mayor of Harare.
I know you are fully aware it is a highly demanding position, certainly not for the faint-hearted. I hope you will be equal to the task.
Though I have not had close interaction with you before, I am somehow optimistic that in you we have a sober, determined and dedicated mayor, who will lift Harare from the current quagmire.
The bit I have read about you and the instances I have heard you speak tell me that Harare could actually be on the verge of rising again. I hope you are mindful of the fact that your job is not necessarily to spite Government and the people of Harare and Zimbabwe at large simply because you belong to the opposition party, but it is to serve the people to the best of your abilities.
It is not a secret that some, if not most of your predecessors from your party, did not do well at all in solving the myriad of challenges the capital city faces today.
Human nature has it that we often desire to do better than our predecessors, if not as a duty but certainly for self-aggrandisement.
I sincerely hope you are in that mode, Your Worship. The City of Harare has deteriorated to unimaginable levels and it needs urgent rescue. Service delivery is at its lowest.
I shudder to just imagine how the city would look like were it not for Government that chipped in with road repairs, borehole drilling and many other strategies to rescue residents.
Government also stepped in and engaged the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to assist in refuse collection. So, Your Worship, your work is cut out for you.
Harare needs you and your team to move with haste and come up with lasting solutions to the many challenges in what was once a sunshine city.
Of course, some of the challenges have to do with a lot of rural-urban migration, which meant much of the infrastructure had to be overstretched but by now, sustainable solutions should have been implemented.
This is not peculiar to Harare, but other cities in Africa, too, not that we should find comfort in numbers, Your Worship.
We have started witnessing urban-rural migration in the last few years as people seek the peace, serenity, space and a presumably more affordable lifestyle in rural and peri-urban areas.
The challenges in Harare, which we are all too aware of need to be dealt with decisively. You see, Harare is the face of Zimbabwe, hence the capital needs to be at its best so that it gives a correct picture of the country and the potential resident therein.
Globally, capital cities have the responsibility of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and tourists primarily, but Harare has been found wanting. There is also a lot of lawlessness going on, even a stone’s throw away from Town House, but not much corrective or restorative action has been taken.
I write to you, Your Worship, as a citizen keen on seeing her city become the Sunshine City it is supposed to be. I just thought I could raise a few issues in this letter to you. My intention is not to lament about the challenges, but to make a plea that you rise above destructive politics and discharge your duties in the most professional manner that you can.
May your appointment give Harare the watershed moment it is desperate for.
May your ascension not be just another episode of the horror movie called Harare. It is an honour to address you as you undertake the significant responsibility of leading our beloved city.
Areas that need your attention include:
Infrastructure development: One of the pressing issues in Harare is the state of its infrastructure. It is crucial to prioritise the development and maintenance of roads, water supply systems, sewage systems and public transportation. Partnering the private sector or having twinning arrangements can help you raise funding for this.
Waste management: The city’s waste management system requires urgent attention. Implementing efficient waste collection, recycling programmes and public awareness campaigns can help combat the growing waste crisis. Investing in waste-to-energy initiatives can also contribute to sustainable development and alleviate the strain on landfills.
Water supply: Harare has been grappling with water shortages. Exploring alternative sources of water, such as rainwater harvesting and groundwater extraction can help mitigate water scarcity.
Housing and urban planning: The rapid population growth in Harare has led to inadequate housing and urban sprawl. Developing affordable housing projects and implementing effective urban planning strategies can help address these challenges. Encouraging public-private partnerships and involving the community in decision-making can lead to more sustainable and inclusive urban development.
I must hasten to say that Government has done a lot in the past few years to improve the situation.
Healthcare: Improving access to quality healthcare should be a priority. Municipal clinics, which have not been operating optimally in recent years, need attention. More manpower is critical in terms of nursing sisters seeing as most of the city’s clinics have been affected by brain drain.
Economic growth and job creation: Promoting a conducive business environment, attracting investment and supporting local entrepreneurship can stimulate economic growth and create job opportunities. Strengthening Harare’s tourism sector, promoting the cultural heritage and investing in sustainable agriculture can also contribute to economic diversification.
To ensure transparency and accountability, it is essential to establish mechanisms for citizen participation, engage with community leaders and hold regular town hall meetings. Emphasising good governance, fighting corruption and streamlining bureaucratic processes will help create an enabling environment for progress and development.
Recreational facilities: Harare is desperate for these. There are few, if any, functioning public swimming pools in Harare and play centres for children. Recreation is critical also as a strategy to give residents decent entertainment, dragging them from drug and substance abuse, teenage pregnancies and other shenanigans afflicting the city.
As alluded to earlier, Your Worship, a capital city holds great significance in the political, cultural and economic spheres of a country and we hope Harare will become such. Here are some key reasons why capital cities are important:
Political centre: The capital city is typically the seat of Government and the administrative hub of a country. It houses the key institutions of governance, such as the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The capital city often serves as the headquarters for the central government, where major decisions and policy-making processes take place.
Symbolic importance: The capital city represents the identity, sovereignty and unity of a nation. It is often a symbol of national pride and heritage, housing important landmarks, monuments and cultural sites that showcase the country’s history and values. The capital city can also serve as a focal point for national celebrations, official ceremonies and diplomatic events.
Economic centre: Many capital cities are significant economic hubs, attracting businesses, industries and investment. The presence of government institutions, foreign embassies, and international organisations often leads to increased economic activity, job opportunities, and infrastructure development. Capital cities tend to have better access to resources, transportation networks and services, making them attractive for commerce and trade.
Diplomatic relations: Capital cities play a crucial role in international relations. They often host foreign embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions, facilitating communication and negotiations between nations. Diplomatic visits, summits and conferences are frequently held in capital cities, enabling leaders and officials to engage in diplomacy, form alliances, and address global issues.
Cultural and educational centres: Capital cities are usually cultural and educational hubs, offering a wide range of museums, galleries, theatres, libraries and educational institutions. They attract artists, intellectuals, scholars and students, fostering intellectual and artistic pursuits. Capital cities often have diverse populations, promoting cultural exchange, multiculturalism and creativity.
Infrastructure and development: Capital cities tend to receive significant investments in infrastructure projects, including transportation systems, public utilities and civic amenities. Governments often prioritise the development of the capital city to showcase the country’s progress and provide better services to its citizens. This can lead to improved living standards, healthcare facilities, educational opportunities and overall quality of life.
Thank you for your attention, Your Worship. I wish you success in your endeavours to transform Harare into a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable city. Together, we can overcome the challenges and build a better future for all residents.
In God I trust!