Yesterday we carried a feature story titled “A day inside Mbare’s sex nests”, about the debauchery and depravity that has been embedded in the overcrowded hostels in Harare’s teeming suburb — if one may call it that — of Mbare.
“Family and community values have gone down the drain. Children are forced to encounter prostitution and lured into drug abuse at a tender age . . .” read part of the shocking report.
Even though this rot has been going on unchecked for years, we cannot be inured to shock. No one can get used to that rot and foul stench.
Urban decay — the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude — is now written all over Mbare. Decrepit buildings, high local unemployment, fragmented families, political exploitation, crime, and a desolate, inhospitable landscape — you have the whole lot there. This is urban decay at its worst.
Former Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda engaged the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to revive and rebuild Mbare, but they were chased away by the Zanu PF-controlled Chipangano militia. Early this year, the same political hooligans disrupted a groundbreaking ceremony for would-be investors from the Middle East. When there is marriage between organised crime and politics, it becomes nigh impossible for progressiveness and orderliness to prevail.
That is why some politically connected people are making millions out of this rot through extorting from vendors and market stall holders. They are thriving from this chaos and will resist any moves to end that. The local authority — Harare City Council — has been completely sidelined.
For years, Mbare has been the nerve centre of racketeering. Now, the Mbare rot has spread into the city centre right before our eyes. That is what happens when we tolerate lawlessness. Lawlessness breeds chaos.
Grime and crime are not in short supply. This is mostly the handiwork of Zanu PF. They have pushed out decent folk and brought in lumpen elements, the dregs of society. You can scream against gays, but this will sound hollow if you tolerate debauchery and depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah proportions in your own backyard.
Mbare has been reduced from the cultural hub it once was to a slum. The same way Harare has been reduced from the Sunshine City to a noisy, disorderly vending eyesore. The same way Zimbabwe has been reduced from the breadbasket of Southern Africa to a basket case of the region.
So, Mbare is merely a microcosm of the national decay. That is what you reap from rotten governance. It has got nothing to do with sanctions. Mbare — like the rest of the country — has been sacrificed on the altar of the politics of corruption and greed.
For how long can the people take it?
We will end there.