A showdown is in the making between Harare City Council and Zanu PF after the city fathers turned down a request by the party to transform part of Park Street, originally designed for parking space, into a flea market.
In a letter Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said:
“The area which you and your colleagues seek to use as a flea market is and has always been designated for an entirely different purpose altogether, like parking bays for the motoring public.”
He was responding to a letter written by one Mrs Khumalo representing a group of operators at the flea market seeking to convert a section of Park Street in Harare into a flea market.
The letter was copied to the Zanu PF district co-ordinating committee chairman, Vice President Joice Mujuru, Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo, Harare Governor David Karimanzira, the President’s Office, Zanu PF Harare chairman General Amos Midzi and Army Commander, Constantine Chiwenga.
Park Street is one of the few streets in the capital with spacious parking.
Converting the street into a flea market would result in congestion.
In another letter to Zanu PF, Masunda said Harare as a city catered for different groups and would not be stampeded into overriding by-laws.
Said Masunda: “It is long overdue for Jaison Pasadi, the chairman of the Zanu PF’s Harare DCC, and Elizabeth Bwanya lead vocalist of the Chimurenga Choir, to be made aware of the following facts:
The city council is the designated local authority with the responsibility to run the city in the interest of all stakeholders; There is no provision in the Urban Councils Act for the city council to ‘override the by-laws’ and ‘empower people’; In the overall context of governance, there is a very clear distinction between the role of the city council as opposed to the roles of the country’s hallowed pillars of governance viz the executive, legislature, judiciary and fourth estate (ie the media).
“The role of the executive, like the Office of the President and Cabinet, is certainly not to run the day-to-day affairs of any local authority, including the City of Harare,” Masunda wrote.
“When the elections were held in 2008, councillors were democratically chosen to represent the interests of various stakeholders within the designated 46 wards in Harare.”
Masunda said the rule of law must be observed and Zanu PF officials should follow channels.
Zanu PF last week threatened to take over foreign-owned shops, especially those owned by Nigerians and Chinese to “empower” its people.
Pasadi had a meeting with the then acting town clerk, Engineer Christopher Zvobgo, where he made his party’s intentions clear.
During the meeting, Pasadi is said to have stressed that there was no turning back on utilising open spaces, particularly that along Park Street, and taking over shops run by foreigners in Harare and handing them over to locals.
Pasadi confirmed the meeting with Zvobgo and that they intended to confiscate the shops to empower locals.
He said his group wanted to take the shops to make indeginisation meaningful.
Already, the party has illegally “invaded” Carter House, a council property in Mbare, and a flea market next to Harare Central Police Station.