City Of Harare Not Winning The Fight Against Illegal Structures
2 March 2020
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Michael Chideme 

Illegal businesses on roadsides and at shopping centres in Harare, which were demolished by council in January, have resurfaced.

City of Harare destroyed illegal structures in Westlea, Dzivaresekwa, Waterfalls, at Zindoga Shopping Centre, Mbudzi roundabout area, Sunningdale and Mbare, as part of an exercise to clean the city.

Municipal police, together with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, also descended on businesses operating illegally along Tynwald Road in Westlea and Solomon Mujuru Drive (formerly Kirkman Drive) and along Bulawayo Road.

Those affected by the blitz included car dealers and those selling cabins, bricks, pre-cast walls, flowers, goats, sheep, cement and charcoal.

Yesterday, The Herald saw new tuckshops and other new structures at Zindoga Shopping Centre where people were cooking food for sale.

At Tynwald Road and Solomon Mujuru Drive, all the demolished cabins had been replaced and it was business as usual.

A car dealer along Solomon Mujuru Drive, who requested anonymity, said he had no choice but to re-establish his business since it was the one sustaining his family.

“I set up the business of breaking vehicles and selling parts on this spot about eight years ago and that is where I get my income,” he said.

“My whole family, wife and children are taken care of by this business, so I had no choice than to come back and continue with my business.”

Another dealer, Thomas Sengu, who sells bricks said, “We thought council was going to allocate us another place to operate from, but they went quiet, so we cannot let our families suffer. Business has to go on.”

Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said those who re-established the illegal structures risked losing out.

“We are actually encouraging them to start removing their structures because when we come we will just demolish the properties and it will be a loss on their investment. We will not rest until the city of Harare is clean.”

Those operating along Solomon Mujuru Drive expressed sadness over the demolitions.

They claimed paying rates at council district offices.

Chairman of the Kirkman Traders Association Mr Fidelis Magava said they were not served with eviction notices.

“When we started these projects, we paid rates to council and we agreed to pay $300 every month to operate our businesses,” he said.

“Council then told us that there were people operating under electricity lines and they needed to be removed. We were shocked to see a front-end loader coming to destroy our businesses structures.

“If the clean-up is meant to create a safe environment for us, we have no problem with it. What worries us is that we have lost our property and council did not give us any notice.”

Addressing a Wetlands Indaba last month, Harare Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba warned that the demolition of houses built on illegal sites was imminent.