By George Machanja
YOUR Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa,
I hope to find you well Mr President.
I have not formally written to you before, Your Excellency, and I don’t envisage this to be my last attempt to bring to your attention matters of great concern to the citizenry of the country you lead.
In the formative days of your coming into power, I was most impressed by your zeal to tackle each and every problem bedevilling our country no matter how big or small, and I still want to remain optimistic that you are not waning in your endeavours to stir this country out of the woods.
Mr President, let me hastily bring to your attention the need for a lasting solution to a dire health situation obtaining at Mupedzanhamo Flea Market in Mbare, Harare.
I am particularly mindful of the fact that Mbare is not just accustomed to high human and vehicular traffic, but has certain historical aspects of great significance to tourists and the citizenry in general.
Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the promulgation of lockdowns, Mupedzanhamo Flea Market was not spared.
However, the subsequent easing of stringent lockdown regulations has eluded arguably the biggest second-hand clothing flea market in Zimbabwe, as it has remained closed.
Traders who used this giant enclosure have been left in quandary and at the mercy of inclement weather.
Besides, there is also great danger of traders being run over by motor vehicles as they desperately fight for limited space, ending up displaying their wares on the edges of the main roads.
A case in point happened in the not so distant past, when a bus failed to negotiate a curve and ran over vendors who were selling their wares by the roadside. It was such a gory sight as limbs were crushed and splintered bones were all over the place.
Your Excellency, I will never forget this unfortunate incident, with those who survived this terrible ordeal, vowing never to come back to the place again.
The following day I was horrified to see that new vendors had taken over the black spot, and it was a hive of activity.
I could not tell whether this was just another case of desperate times calling for desperate measures.
Coming back to the main reason for my missive to you Mr President, I was driving down Rotten Row just after the flyover towards Mbare recently, when l witnessed the most pathetic sight in my entire life.
To my left was the oldest cemetery which has been turned into a public toilet by traders around Mupedzanhamo. What a shame!
I witnessed in utter disbelief hordes of men and women, unashamedly squatting next to each other in broad daylight to relieve themselves in the graveyard.
Can we really let such unhealthy practices to go on unchecked.
In the African culture, it is taboo for human beings to desecrate graves.
My heart sank in shame and disbelief, to say the least.
Your Excellency, I am sure these are issues that cannot be allowed to pass without provoking your sincere concern about good health practices, as you have always emphasised these many a time.
I would also like to know, Mr President, why the Harare city fathers have chosen to shut Mupedzanhamo to the detriment of people’s health.
The absence of ablution facilities and non-compliance with COVID-19 regulations are such great threats to the health of your people and I implore you, Mr President, to take action immediately as city authorities are sleeping on duty.
The continued influx of traders to open-air spaces around Mupedzanhamo not only points to a rise in unemployment in our country and the economic instabilities, but also the need for your government to implement decentralisation of informal marketplaces.
I find that Harare City Council authorities are not only exhibiting monumental failure, but have also lowered their guard to unacceptable levels and surely the buck must stop with someone.
Would it not be better, Your Excellency, to avert an unnecessary health scare beforehand, than wait to fire fight?
I trust that my appeal will find favour with your esteemed office, and action shall be taken within the shortest possible time in order to avert a ticking health time bomb at Mupedzanhamo.
Have a great day, Mr President.
- George Machanja is a social commentator and he writes in his personal capacity. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.