Zanu PF minister has strongly condemned the ongoing demolitions of “illegal structures” along Airport Road, which apparently were directed by party leader President Robert Mugabe late last year.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Mugabe ordered the demolitions, shortly before going on his annual leave, saying the structures were unsightly and portrayed the country in bad light among tourists using the road.
Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and Mugabe’s nephew,Robert Zhuwao have described the demolitions as bereft of human empathy, but analysts described the ministers’ sense of compassion as insincere.
Mzembi, in a Facebook post on Sunday, said Harare City Council should have exercised “compassion and empathy” to the affected residents.
He said in Europe, where he was on government business, it was not permissible to evict anyone in winter even when they were in arrears. “The same compassion and empathy should have applied in this rainy season . . . especially for the victims on the receiving end of a system we must interrogate on how things ended up like this,” reads part of the post.
Mzembi went on to challenge urban planners “to do a quick benchmark of airport locations worldwide to see if they are in upmarket areas, industrial areas or slums as in the case of India”.
“Let’s get to the bottom of this technocratically and see if our urban planning assumptions are still relevant in 2016. Some of the houses destroyed really looked beautiful to an extent where if they were imposed in other airport environments in the world, it would fly in the face of our housing for all campaigns . . . COH (City of Harare) needed to exercise restraint while we put our thinking and compassionate caps on,” he said.
Zhuwao said: “This is heart-breaking. I don’t know the families affected by these demolitions. Even if one is to say all these structures were illegally built, these people, who are strangers to each other, did not end up on these stands through collusion. Surely, council and government need to help these families who are victims of circumstances.”
Analysts yesterday blasted the two ministers, accusing them of hypocrisy.
“Those are crocodile tears coming from the two Cabinet ministers. They should have raised the issue in Cabinet and elicited a public response from their colleague (Saviour Kasukuwere), who runs the Local Government ministry,” analyst, Takura Zhangazha said.
“These are not the first demolitions to occur in Harare. They should be consistent and principled in their approaches as opposed to seeking vainglorious public sympathy in the aftermath of a cruel act by officials who operate under the directive of the government.”
Blogger, Blessing Vava said the ministers were insincere.
“It’s just politicking. The Harare City Council is dominated by the opposition and obviously Zanu PF is trying to act clean and sympathetic since most of these housing co-operatives are controlled by Zanu PF thugs.”