Home » Governance » Outrage As Zanu-PF Tycoon Grabs Mutare Park

INFORMAL traders in Mutare are up in arms with the local authority after officials agreed a deal with the government handing over the local Meikles Park to a Zanu PF tycoon.

The local government ministry, headed Ignatius Chombo, has ordered the eastern border city to lease the prime piece of land to local businessman and Zanu PF central committee member Esau Mupfumi’s Stallvic Enterprises(Private) Limited.

Chombo, who unsuccessfully tried to force a similar deal for the benefit of a Chinese firm in 2011, has offered the local authority State land elsewhere in return.

Mupfumi is said to be planning to develop a five star hotel on the site in a development which, according to critics, means hundreds of informal traders currently operating from the area must move to another location outside the city centre.

The city council has identified a 100 hectare piece of land away from the central business district where it plans to relocate the traders but most say they will not budge.

Last Friday, Mutare mayor, Tatenda Nhemarare, visited the park with Mupfumi to try and explain the directive from the local government ministry to dozens of unimpressed traders.

Nhemarare read a letter dated April 24, 2014 from Chombo’s ministry which confirmed government had acquired the land and planned to lease it to Mupfumi’s Stallvic Enterprise (Private) Limited for construction of a hotel.

The mayor however, struggled to justify the development to restive traders most of them wives of liberation war veterans and Zanu PF supporters.

The traders claim they were allocated stalls in the park in past election campaigns and complain that the ruling party duped them.

Mupfumi said he would give the traders up to December this year to wrap up their operations and leave the park.

The businessman also said, unlike the previous arrangement where traders paid rentals to the city council, his company was now responsible for revenue collection in the park.

“I will not deal with groups or organisation but each individual will pay US$1 to my company because I am now the owner of the park,” said Mupfumi who runs a fleet of buses and several other businesses in the city.

Traders who attended the meeting vowed to take the matter up with Manicaland Provincial Administrator, Fungai Mbetsa.

“We want an explanation why the government would opt to privatise public space and hand it over to a single individual.

“They should leave this park as it is because it is for recreational purposes,” said Garikai Mawoyo from Sakubva high density suburb.

Grace Maruta of Dangamvura also complained: “So where do we go to conduct our business.

“They can’t allocate us space out of the CBD because there is no business in the downtown areas.”

The park also sparked controversy back in 2011 when Chombo again tried to force the local authority to sell the land to a Chinese firm that also wanted to develop a hotel project.

The deal collapsed following spirited opposition by councillors with the support of resident. That spat led to a fall-out between Chombo and then mayor Brian James with the latter subsequently dismissed in 2012.

Source : New Zimbabwe