Home » Industry » Harare Poultry Ban – War On the Urban Destitute [blog]

The Harare municipality recently announced a ban on the keeping of chickens in residential zones. Waza blogger, Jera, explains why he thinks this is an insensitive move.

At a glance, the announcement seems perfectly normal livestock belongs on farms, not in suburbia. The city council’s bylaws (of 1962) state:

‘No poultry house shall be placed nearer than three metres from any boundary or nearer than six metres from premises used for human inhabitation. No person shall keep any poultry by reasons of continued crowing, quacking, clucking, gobbling or like noise tends to destroy the comfort of the neighbourhood.’

But Zimbabwe is not a normal country and in abnormal times, some normal rules cease to make sense. In 1962, when these laws were written, chickens crowed and clucked. If anyone can identify a crowing broiler chicken, I’ll point to an honest politician.

Rampant unemploment

These laws were constructed when everything was normal. Life was simple, predictable even. You were born, went to school, graduated and got a job. But nowadays, unemployment has risen to the point that those in jobs – actual jobs, with regular salary and benefits – are an ever dwindling rarity.

The World Bank estimates that 80% of Zimbabweans are jobless. A recent survey reveals that 65% earn less than $100 a month. In Harare, the monthly rental for a three-bed roomed house is anything from $300 to $1500. The majority of retirees are merely pensioners by name, as they receive no pension.

These terrifying statistics are well publicised but, like a farmer who snoozes through the rooster’s crow, government appears to be sleeping through these facts. It is no surprise that citizens have resorted to unorthodox means of survival.

A matter of priorities

The mayor’s office is cluck-clucking about the health risks of backyard chicken breeding. Since when is public health a priority in Zimbabwe? From our government, there was certainly no love in the time of cholera when 6000 people succumbed to the disease, countrywide. In a city where raw sewage spews freely onto streets, the ‘health risk’ argument is, well, as weightless as chicken feathers. Piles of garbage – far more abhorrent than the sound of chickens clucking- sit uncollected for months.

The mayor is scratching on the surface, like a hen. The problem runs deeper than backyard poultry projects. This is merely the symptom of poverty created by a government that is, as the music group Freshly Ground put it, ‘chicken to change.’ Politicians have chickened out of fighting the real problems of unemployment and poor service delivery.

The Zimbabwean economy is all but dead only Diaspora funds have kept it from flat-lining. In 2012 Diaspora remittances to Zimbabwe totalled $2,1 Billion and, in 2013, inflows amounted to $1,8 Billion – which is hardly chicken feed, in a country with a $4 Billion national budget.

All a conspiracy?

The prohibition of chickens within the city limits might very well be another trick, by the politically connected, to line their pockets. In 2014, ostensibly to uplift local poultry producers, Zimbabwe banned the importation of chickens. Several politicians are chicken farmers. Conspiracy theorists suggested that some overweight and overpaid bigwig with political connections suggested the embargo, just to boost his own business.

Furthermore, this prohibition could be the result of the ruling party’s vendetta with urban voters who have habitually voted for the opposition. Food aid is given in the countryside, where Zanu (PF) has support, but no assistance is rendered to the urban destitute.

It is in Harare where the impact of Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order) was most felt. In the countryside, where voters are more pliable, government has done nothing to arrest such practises as deforestation, poaching and haphazard burrowing by gold panners and mouse hunters. The only time that government has stopped indiscriminate digging was in the Chiadzwa diamond fields. But, to nobody’s surprise, the army and the politically connected immediately moved in.

Casualties of politics

The Harare mayor does not belong to the ruling Zanu (PF). He is from the Movement for Democratic Change. But the mayor is subordinate to the Minister of Local Government – Mr Murambatsvina himself, whose home demolitions of 2005 left 700,000 without shelter. The minister is higher in the pecking order and can override the mayor, as was the case in 2013 when, on the eve of elections, Minister Chombo ordered the cancellation of bills owed by ratepayers to city councils.

Again, in 2014, the minister ordered the reinstatement of Harare’s town clerk, who had been sacked by the mayor for refusing to reveal city council salaries. The media had unearthed scandalously high wages, which did not match the poor service delivery.

Zimbabweans are doing their best to survive in a prohibitive environment. The chicken ban is government’s latest attempt to punish its opponents.

Above the scent of chicken manure, I smell a scam by some greedy fat-cat.

My pen is capped.

a href=”https:wazaonline.comennode283281″ target=”_blank”Jeragravea

Waza is proud to feature as part of its content local bloggers who have a knack for expressing their unique perspectives, independent thoughts and engaging stories. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.

Source : Waza