Govt hides Harare rot


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s attempt to hide the rot in Zimbabwe’s capital city from the eyes of Sadc leaders by applying “make-up” to the chaos through patching of roads, lighting and evicting vendors was an act of hypocrisy, opposition parties and analysts have said.


NewsDay is reliably informed that State officials worked closely with Harare City Council to clean up the city, particularly roads from the airport to the hotels where officials were booked.

Roads from the airport into the city centre were lit and resurfaced days before the summit. Council officials told NewsDay yesterday that there was a clear instruction from higher offices to ensure council assisted in speeding up the road works and lighting.

The usually potholed Seke Road was patched up, while the road leading to Rainbow Towers Hotel, venue of the Sadc Extraordinary Summit was resurfaced and well lit.

Vendors were also not spared from the attempt to sanitise the city ahead of the Sadc Summit. National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Justice Manayi said their members were ordered off their sites.

“We have received reports from our members especially along Julius Nyerere Way, Robert Mugabe Road and Jason Moyo Avenue that they were forced off the streets so that the Sadc leaders would not see them. They were saying they should pave way for the dignitaries and not disturb them,” Manayi said.

“However, this approach is very wrong in that they have to feed their families. That summit should not make vendors’ families suffer because a day lost on vending is too much of a loss as we don’t earn that much.”

Council sources said the local authority was involved in the speeding up of the refurbishment of roads and had an April 24 deadline.

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, however, said he was not aware of any directive to assist government in refurbishing the roads. He said there was nothing wrong in presenting a picture of a clean Harare.

“I am not sure whether we were ordered to do so or not. But as hosts of such a big event, it is the right thing to do. Where we have capacity to present a good city to our visitors, we must. [But] we must avoid getting too excited and getting carried away with it. Some less visible areas in the city have real needs to be attended to with those limited resources,” Manyenyeni said.
Asked if it was true that the massive call to push vendors out of the CBD by pro-Zanu PF associations was linked to the Sadc leaders’ visit, the mayor said: “The link is possible.”

Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo could not be reached for comment.

But analysts said it was improper and hypocritical for government to hide the rot in the country’s capital from Sadc leaders while there were serious issues to deal with.

There were frantic efforts to clear heaps of garbage that had accumulated along major roads.

Zimbabwe is faced with a serious unemployment crisis that has seen many people engaging in vending, car washing and other menial jobs with observers accusing Mugabe of turning Zimbabwe into a nation of vendors.

“That is most unfortunate and this has been happening for some time whenever there are big events. There is no point to hide our poverty because if the leaders leave, we will be with this. It’s hypocrisy for council, the ministry or any other people responsible to do that for a two-day programme,” political analyst Takura Zhangazha said.

“They should have a plan to do that all over the city and not just wait for big events.”

MDC Renewal Team spokesperson Jacob Mafume said: “The government was trying to put lipstick on a frog. All the countries know they are weighed down by the influx of Zimbabweans and no amount of makeup will make Sadc leaders think all is well in Zimbabwe.
“When these leaders leave, it will be suffering again for Zimbabweans as their government fails to pay salaries. We can’t have a situation where there is sprucing up of the city when there is a conference or any big event happening.”


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  4. Mayor Manyenyeni always seems to be in the dark about the affairs of the council. How on earth can the city be cleaned up using council equipment & he’s not sure where the directive came from? Wake up sir!

    • I agree with you Manyenyeni is not here to serve his probably enjoying the gravy train as well, he seems to be out of touch with the happenings of the city his supposed to run, l think his the worst mayor ever, how can he agree to such shenanigans of resurfacing a road just a few hundred metres from rainbow towerswhilst the rest of it is fiddled up by potholes and indurations . Its sad to have such in office, you are an ineffective lot.

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