Maxwell Sibanda 13 October 2017
HARARE – While over the years the MDC-led Harare City Council has been
accused of promoting lawlessness in the central business district (CBD),
President Robert Mugabe recently let the cat out of the bag when he
revealed that it was actually his party officials who have been blocking
the cleaning operation as they were afraid of losing elections.
Vendors have virtually taken over street pavements and roads in the CBD,
forcibly pushing out pedestrians and cars.
The vendors are rude and harass pedestrians who mistakenly knock down
their wares which are paraded on street pavements.
In the evening, trucks loaded with groceries set up shop on the roads
where they are joined by hundreds of pushcart fruit and vegetable vendors.
It is even uglier during knock-off time as workers from different
directions converge in the city where they connect home.
The human traffic is so heavy and innocent people have lost wallets and
valuables to pick-pockets and thieves who take advantage of the congestion
to prey on unsuspecting pedestrians.
For a visiting tourist the order can be mistaken for a mini-market
festival as braai stands have also found their way on the pavements.
The kombis and mushika-shikas, on the other hand, have become the “little
kings” on the city’s roads picking up passengers everywhere while also
dangerously ignoring the one-way lane roads.
You have to be a good driver to drive in some roads in the CBD and those
living in Harare now know very well which roads not to use but for the
visitor, who suddenly finds himself/herself trapped in these zones, this
could be a nightmare.
The kombis and mushika-shikas drive on wrong lanes and are of the habit of
entering red traffic lights at will.
But surprisingly, while joint efforts by the Zimbabwe Republic Police
(ZRP) and Harare municipal police have failed dismally to bring order and
sanity in the CBD, it is interesting that this was a deliberate ploy by
the ruling Zanu PF.
Mugabe, while addressing the Zanu PF youth league national assembly at the
party’s headquarters in Harare said: “…Mai Hanyani tichiburuka kubva
kuSouth Africa…vakachema vachiti Harare yangova tsvina yoga…Toita sei?
Tatadza kuvasunga…Tikaedza vakuru veparty vanoti aiwa rega kudaro
waakuda kutiruzisa maelections. Zvino tongobata veopposition chete here?
(Harare is just dirt. What do we do? We are failing to arrest them because
party seniors they will lose elections. So do we arrest only those from
So that is it Mr President, it is your senior party officials who all
along have been fighting the cleaning up of the CBD because they are
afraid of losing elections.
Shockingly, Mugabe said he only learnt about the CBD’s situation last week
when he was coming from South Africa.
Which city is the president living in because this is not new to some of
us who live in the capital city as it has been like this for years now?
This also shows that successive Local Government ministers have been lying
to Mugabe that everything in the CBD was in order.
The president is also to blame because he is not taking time to see for
himself some of these things on the ground, hence being fed half-baked
truths. And one wonders how much more of the country’s rot his ministers
are hiding from him.
The state of affairs on CBD streets and roads has become a security issue,
threatening the peace that pedestrians and motorists used to enjoy to such
an extent that the help of the ZRP should be enlisted to clear the streets
of this cancer.
We know the security sector is controlled by officials sympathetic to Zanu
PF through ministers of Home Affairs and Defence; hence they could not in
the past fully support municipal police.
But after Mugabe’s pronouncement that this indiscipline of letting vendors
and mushika-shika take control of the CBD should stop, we hope to see
movement from the relevant ministries.
We also hope that Zanu PF and, especially the Local Government minister
will stop blaming the MDC-led council for the chaos in the CBD because now
we know the root cause of the problem.