By Elinera Manyonga
ZANU PF shadow MP for Southerton constituency, Andrew Makahamadze, has clashed with the Harare City Council over a decision by the city fathers to turn recreational spaces in Southerton into residential stands against recommendations by government.
Makahamadze lashed out at Harare mayor Herbert Gomba, accusing him and the other MDC councillors of incompetence and seeking personal enrichment at the expense of service delivery.
“I am disappointed with the mayor and the entire council as they are trying to brutally rob our children’s social lives by converting these recreational spaces into residential stands,” Makahamadze said.
“What will our children do for fun then? It is not like I am against people having homes to call their own, but I am worried that if Bexley Circle and Gilwell Square are turned into residential stands, there will be overpopulation and a scramble for the few available resources as the existing population suffers from not having a secondary school and not even having a single community library.”
Makahamadze said that the council is damaging the ecosystem by cutting trees in these areas, leading to environmental problems since Southerton is in the middle of the heavy industrial zone in Harare.
He further said he was shocked that the Environmental Management Agency was not raising a red flag.
Southerton residents, irked by the development, fumed at the council’s decision.
Francis Makamure, a resident of Gilwell Square, said the council never consulted them as it just started pegging the recreational spaces and cutting trees.
Efforts to turn the open spaces into residential stands started long back when council wrote to one D Jack, a resident, on October 19, 2018 advising him of its plans to turn the open spaces into residential properties.
But Jack objected to the proposal in a letter dated November 28, 2018.
He said such a development would create a conflict of interests with the residents. He said, instead, there should be more recreational facilities now than before because the population had grown.
Another letter from the Office of the President ordered the Local Government ministry permanent secretary to investigate the matter.
But before a report of the investigations had been produced, council has already started parcelling out land at the two open spaces to home seekers.
Council spokesperson Michael Chideme on Tuesday promised to get information on the issue and call back, but had not done so at the time of going to print last night.
In a different issue, Makahamadze also accused council of segregating the disabled at Jairos Jiri Centre and at its orthopaedic workshop by placing a billboard on the footbridge linking the two institutions, preventing the disabled from using their designated facility to cross Lobengula Road safely.