Urgent action needs to be taken regarding the situation in Harare if the city is to contribute meaningfully to the vision of the new political dispensation, as the capital of the country. If left unattended, the city can become one of the stumbling blocks to the economic progress that is envisaged in the new political order.
One of the emphasis of the new Government is attracting foreign direct investment, which we believe can contribute to economic revival. Harare plays a big role as the capital city in boosting the confidence of such investors. The capital is the first port of call for most visitors, so it has to impress them at first sight.
It is the face of the country, so to speak. Regrettably, the condition of our capital is far from impressing anyone, let alone foreign investors intending to commit their funds to the country. Can someone within the Harare City Council give us a convincing reason why the city is so dirty?
There is litter everywhere in Harare, including right on the pavements in the heart of the city. Yet Harare is so small in both size and population that it doesn’t take much effort for the city council to clean-up the streets, relocate informal traders, remove illegal dump-sites in the city centre and maintain the few flower beds on sidewalks.
The situation is worsened by illegal taxi operators who seem to have been given the freedom of the city. If one considers the menace posed by illegal vendors, then Harare becomes more like a jungle where everything goes. Any normal investor is bound to ask questions about the state of the capital before they can commit their money.
The basic question will be: If Zimbabweans cannot manage to look after such a small city, will they be able to handle billions of dollars in investments?
This is why we urge city officials at Town House to have a global outlook and realise how the state of Harare can cost the whole country. They should move at par with the vision being propounded by central Government. We have watched with dismay as Harare mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni admits failure by his council on several occasions.
What we have not witnessed is a single councillor or council official tendering a resignation letter over such glaring failure. Clr Manyenyeni just recently told residents to drink water supplied by the city at their own risk. In fact, residents risk contracting deadly diseases because of the poor state of water, according to the mayor.
We thought the next honourable move by Clr Manyenyeni after making such a revealing statement would be to call it quits. His statement on the poor quality of water being supplied by the city, coupled with failure to regularly collect garbage and the potholes in residential areas, clearly point to failure by those running the affairs of Harare.
These present a compelling case for the resignation of council officials, starting with Clr Manyenyeni himself. Harare City Council a few years back got a $144 million loan from China precisely to improve the quality of water.
With that loan, according to the city’s projections, the quality of water should have improved long back. The city officials should know that their bungling affects not only residents, but the country’s image as well.
Harare mirrors the country as its capital. It is clear that the city is in urgent need of new faces at its helm to change course so that it aligns with the aspirations of the people.
Newly-appointed Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo should act urgently to ensure that Harare becomes the city that everyone desires to live in.