Home » Governance » Time for ‘Operation #bringbackoursunshinecity’ [column]

There are a million reasons why I am not particularly fond of the Harare City Council. First of all, one just has to see how dirty the capital city of Zimbabwe has become lately. I remember when I was growing up, how refreshing it was to walk along the streets of Harare. In fact, back then, when we visited our rural home in Gutu, they would ask how it was back in the city, referring it as the “Sunshine City”.

Those days when you walked along the streets after dark, the street lights would light the way ahead of you.

Their curiosity cast a romantic and special glow to the city. That was Harare. It was the city.

The roads were wide and well-marked. There were flowers on the side of the roads.

These gaping holes we see on some of the roads (potholes) were not there. To find a wide yawning hole in a city road as has become common today, was impossible.

Dark and unlit streets were not accustomed to Harare. Even Town House itself was not a sight for sore eyes.

I remember when the late Nelson Mandela and his then wife Winnie Mandela, came to Zimbabwe and we were among some of the school children lucky enough to take part in the festivities of that day. Harare was beautiful then.

There were public pay toilets that actually worked in Harare then.

One could shop and then pay to use a clean and flushing toilet before continuing with their shopping.

You did not have to rush back home or use the side of the buildings as some unscrupulous beings have come to do these days.

Refuse was collected regularly and the bins were actually given to residents by council, again on a regular basis. Even in the high density suburbs where we grew up, there were set days when the refuse trucks (madhodhabini) were expected and they always came on that very day.

We sang and danced and mocked them as they zoomed through the streets.

There were none of these guessing games where you do not know if refuse will be collected or not, as is the case now. There were no dump sites on roadsides as we see today.

And how could I leave this one out? Harare was known for its gushing and clean water.

Did we not enjoy drinking straight from the water tap after sporting activities at school? We used to bake and cook at school and wash our utensils afterwards without any trouble. We even did gardening too.

The city was synonymous with oozing, clean, tap water.

My heart bleeds that some children born today will never know what the sight and sound of clean tap water was like. Today we know of Harare suburbs that have gone for years without tap water.

We know of whole new suburbs that have sprouted that do not have water.

Wells and boreholes, which used to be rural phenomena, have become common place in Harare.

When I visit Highfield to see my mother, there are a dozen people at any given time asking for water from her well.

You cannot be a responsible child if you have not dug a wellborehole at your parents’ home because water is no longer an assured commodity for many in Harare.

The other terrible thing about Harare is how impossible it is to get a housing stand.

Housing has become a dream for many of Harare’s children. Without big bucks and some g connections, one virtually has no chance of owning a home in a decent suburb in Harare.

As a result, many have turned to building or living in some settlements that are sprouting in every corner of the city. Others are building on wetlands, near railway and electricity lines and other no-nos.

Many are being conned into parting with their hard earned cash after being promised housing stands by crooks.

The reason why this happens is because it is not very clear how one gets a housing stand at a reasonable price from Harare. The rich continue to accumulate housing land while the rest of Harare’s citizens watch.

Another puzzling thing is how some plush suburbs no longer look as plush.

Right adjacent to a plush suburb, some people can be seen erecting some illegal structures.

Right across from a high density suburb, a low density suburb is said to be developing. Stand sizes are no longer standard.

Cry my beloved Harare.

In the midst of all this, you have a town council presided over by men who are paying themselves very well.

They have just purchased luxury vehicles for themselves with money meant for water and sewage services. This is despite that they are not servicing Harare and its residents.

This is despite the fact that they are billing residents for services not delivered. This is despite the fact that their own workers were recently making noise about not being paid.

Can anyone tell me why town clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi should be getting the latest Range Rover when Harare is on its knees?

What about his team of director? What have they done to deserve such perks?

The billing system is in shambles and daily, we are told we owe amounts that we do not even know where they came from. Harare is turning into some shanty town right before our eyes and those who should be running it do not seem to have any clue as to how to fix thing or even care.

But they still think they are special and should do whatever they want. What makes these people so special?

Shall a whole city watch while a few people make Harare their own personal property?

The Mayor does not seem to be able to be in charge here. Should Government not be stepping in?

Or shall we, as the residents of this city, stand up and demand that sanity returns to our city? What do we want to be remembered for by the next generation?

If we do not want to be remembered as the generation that watched Harare burn, let us make a difference by demanding some action at Town House.

It’s time for Operation #BringBackOurSunshineCity!


Source : The Herald