Zanu PF-affiliated space barons wreak havoc in Mbare

Source: Zanu PF-affiliated space barons wreak havoc in Mbare – NewsDay Zimbabwe May 26, 2017

THE Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has said space barons are wreaking havoc in Mbare, taking over trading areas and employing Zanu PF youths to use violent methods to collect fees from stall owners.


Mbare’s Opaque Economy: Privatisation of the Public Infrastructure, Thriving of Terror Gangs and Breeding Ground for Political Violence, ZPP said as the space barons instilled a reign of terror in Mbare, the Harare City Council, which is the custodian of the properties, had lost control.

“To date, ZPP has responded to and verified four cases of violence against traders at Mbare Musika, and all of them were politically-motivated,” the report read. “Zanu PF youths often collect rentals on behalf of leaseholders of council property within the marketplace, and Harare City Council (HCC) leases properties and space to some people who then sublet to informal traders at inflated rentals.”

This, they said, happened despite HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme having said council does not allow subletting of its properties and would evict anyone found sub-letting.

“Party youths are engaged because they are feared and are able to intimidate, harass and violate the rights of traders with a degree of impunity as police do not act against them. Traders have to pay protection fees to these youths for the authorities to turn a blind eye on the illegal use of commercial space.”

ZPP said the gangs of space barons in Mbare thrive on the impunity and reluctance of law enforcement agents to act against them.

Some Zanu PF members fingered as space barons in Mbare include a party member from District 3, only identified as Chidziva, who collects $1 from every bus that enters Mbare bus terminus.

One “Dread Kumbie”, a suspected Zanu PF youth member, is said to be renting space for $100 per trader a month yet the property he is leasing belongs to HCC.

Another space baron, identified as Amai Mahoka, is said to be leasing several tables at Mupedzanhamo and using party youths to harass those that default in payment.

“Each tenant renting space from a space baron pays between $150 to $200 a month, yet the leaseholders pay as little as $60 per month to council. There are at least three ruling party offices within Mbare Musika used as party bases. There is no other political party that has an office in the area except the ruling Zanu PF.”

ZPP said HCC must intervene to stop illegal subletting of its properties by the space barons.

“The politicisation of commerce at Mbare has resulted in human rights violations and cases of political violence which could see an upward spiral as the 2018 elections approach,” they said.