Who needs a new city?

HARARE - Analysts have roundly slated government’s plans to construct a new capital city in Mount Hampden — about 20km north west of Harare — at a time the country’s economy is in free-fall and poverty levels are shooting up.

In interviews with the Daily News yesterday, the analysts invariably described the plans as completely unnecessary, unjustifiable or “sheer madness that typifies the hubris” and perennial misplaced priorities of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government.

They pointed to the country’s comatose economy and more pressing needs in areas such as the provision of clean water, health, sanitation, electricity and maintenance of roads as the reason why “pie in the sky” projects such as the proposed new capital city should not even be contemplated.

Christopher Mugaga, a Harare-based economist, told the Daily News that the project was at any rate over-ambitious as the government lacked the resources to “build a second Pretoria”.

“I doubt the take-off of this new city. Firstly, as we all know, we have become a country of blueprints and plans that never materialise.

“Secondly, government accounts are in shambles. The country has not heard about the investors set to fund this project and Harare has not seen new buildings in the last decade apart from Joina City and to build an entire city is just selling utopian dreams,” Mugaga said.

Rather, he added, the government should focus on fixing and expanding the cities that are currently in existence.

“Harare is one of the smallest cities in Africa. They must just expand Harare or Bulawayo. Cities are not just set up, there are factors that make cities happen and they do not happen just because someone says a city must happen,” he said.

Mugaga said the move pointed out to both policy vacuums and inconsistencies in government, as well as a “blatant misplacement of priorities”.

“This thing will not take off the way I see it. There are too many issues that need to be addressed. The only way this could happen is if bailout money was availed by some investor,” he said.

Another analyst, Issis Mwale, said the move by the government reflected that the country’s leaders were not in touch with the various realities of the Zimbabwean situation.

“I find this new city idea very ludicrous. The way I understand it, government is going to get funding from external loans which will be underwritten by Treasury. All things are wrong with this plan.

“They could not find a bailout package for ZimAsset and they slashed the Budget because of a lack of funds, but suddenly they can secure external funding for this city.

“These people do not care about the ordinary Zimbabwean and will just source for funds to complete selfish projects,” she said.

Mwale said the country did not need another city, but required “a refurbishment” of the existing cities.

“Harare and Bulawayo are just fine. They just need to be worked on.

“What is the point of creating a brand new city in this new place? A city is brought about by various factors including mineral wealth and things like that,” she added.

Economist John Robertson said the government initiative was extremely extravagant and inconsiderate of overburdened taxpayers.

“Apart from soliciting for external loans, government has to first build considerable reserves for capital expenditure and that takes several years.

“Authorities will have to find new measures of generating more revenue at a time when Zimbabweans are already overburdened by taxes.

“The plan is way beyond the country’s capacity. Planning is one thing and implementation is another different ball game,” he said.

But economist Brains Muchemwa said there was nothing wrong per se with the plan.

“Government can only create a conducive environment for private capital to come in and fund the development of key infrastructure. We can no longer ride on a city built during pre-colonial times. I believe planning our own capital will help ease congestion and create more economic activity.

He added that many cities around the world had managed to implement projects that decongested the old city projects through creation of a new central business district.

But another analyst who requested anonymity pointed to the “fallacy” of the concept of decongesting cities by building new ones.

“I’ve heard this talk of how Sandton City in Johannesburg, for example, was allegedly able to decongest the City of Johannesburg.

This is complete twaddle.

“The reality is that, firstly, Sandton City was built by the white community as democracy was dawning in South Africa, who were trying to run away from the Johannesburg CBD which was getting ‘blacker and blacker’ so to speak.

“But more importantly, the other incontrovertible reality today is that both Sandton City and the Joburg CBD are as congested as hell, which exposes both the lies and the folly around this new capital city proposed for Mt Hampden.

“Indeed, why waste resources on another city when the existing one is decaying due to mismanagement? Our country is resource-rich but we have very poor leaders and this has set us back decades behind other nations which are developing fast.

“Let us rather focus on getting Harare to work, or to where it was at the time of independence in 1980 when it was clean, tidy and full of shops, shoppers, operational offices and happy workers,” the analyst said, adding that he feared that the proposed new capital city would “just be another conduit for corruption”.

Lickspittle State media reported at the weekend that construction of the new capital would allegedly begin within the next two years after Cabinet approved the multi-million dollar project.

The government was said to have already engaged international experts to finalise technical details regarding environmental impact assessments and land use patterns, with authorities also said to be busy studying development plans from prospective investors.

Funding would be sourced through external loans underwritten by the ministry of Finance and Economic Development as well as land sales.

The city would be designed in “the mould of South Africa’s Sandton in Johannesburg” and it would accommodate government ministries,

Parliament, residential areas, shopping malls, hotels and industries.

A plan for the US$140 million Parliamentary complex had already been drawn up.

Regina Mutezo (38), a Harare-based vendor, told the Daily News she did not know why government was bothering with the new city.

“So you say government wants to build a new capital city? Why are they putting money into a new city yet Harare is so dirty? We do not even have proper stalls to sell our stuff on, totengesera pasi ivo vakutoda kuvaka new city (we sell our wares on the ground, but they want to build a new city).

“Why is this even supposed to bother us anyway? We know government does not care for us and they just do what they want,” Mutezo said.

Buhlebenkosi Ncube (25), a Bulawayo-based graduate, said if government saw it fit to build a new city, it had to cater for the people first.

“This is a very noble idea; however, my worry is who will benefit from this move? Infrastructure development is always welcome, but government must address such issues as employment and feeding the hungry,” Ncube said.

    Comments (23)

    "...as we all know, we have become a country of blueprints and plans that never materialise...why waste resources on another city when the existing one is decaying due to mismanagement? Our country is resource-rich but we have very poor leaders and this has set us back decades behind other nations which are developing fast." Enough said.

    Marcello - 11 February 2015

    hapana nayaya 2 yrs from now ,will b 2017 so kutaimira macompains chete, vafana vanenge vachinzi, tangai mativotera mupinde mabasa kuNew City

    JMYO - 11 February 2015

    we voted these people into power because we needed them to resasitate the economy as they claimed in their bids for our votes in stead of sustaining the crucial socio economic needs makuda kufunder the building of a city god help us thru the remaining years of this reign

    tinodanana - 11 February 2015

    I find it very strange that urban planning in Zimbabwe don't look at the holistic approach to planning urban settlements. Building cities in very fertile land is both reckless and indifference to the country's food security. If I was close to power, I will certainly advise total ban of developments in fertile soils like North of Harare, Banket, Mazowe Valley etc. Lets built cities in infertile soils- Kujecha, or gravel soils- rukangarabwe such that the multitudes will then be fed by successful peri-urban farms thriving in the vicinities of these cities.

    Gwatsvira - 11 February 2015

    What we need are new leaders with brains who can run a country...not new city.

    rugare - 11 February 2015

    Dream on uncle Bob and Co. You cannot even manage potholes let alone processes to construct mega-structures...maybe that is the trick for the 2.2mil jobs...madhakabhoyi and security guards. Too much kufunda vanhu veZimbabwe is driving us nuts!!!

    garikayi - 11 February 2015

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    CARTRIDGE GALLERY - 11 February 2015

    I beg to differ on this issue politics aside, we need to decongest Harare, the project if handled well will be self financing. The garvenment will have to survey the area and set standards, interested people will purchase the stands , the fund created should fund infrastracture eg water sewage electricity etc. My only wish is for corruption to take a back seat and let financially capable clients acquire the stands who have the capacity to develop them in a given period.Those that are for speculation should be avoided at all cost. This besides creating employment can help decentralize garvenment activity as departments can access cheap land to built offices etc.

    David Panganai - 11 February 2015

    That is a heap of rubbish . Only those sick in their heads can believe such nonsense .If the pretenders can fail to build houses that they destroyed during Murambaswina for their victims suwa how can they build a Sandton here . Destroyers are not builders they can not even paint a few govt buildings . They cannot fix old water reticulations net works in our cities which were installed by whites .What exactly can these morons build ? Where are 2m jobs ? Please do not try to divert our attention from the falling of the ailing Mugabe and dog fight in zanu no pliz we are not your fools get away.

    Diibulaanyika - 11 February 2015

    I support the idea of a new Harare, we definitely need a new capital city, because the current one is now a rubbish bin.If you have been away for some time, and have seen better places you will understand what i am talking about.The only problem is timing.I think the main reason behind the fast tracking of this whole project i so the ZPF chefs can allocate themselves free stands and other freebiz before the gravy train reaches its final destination, which according to prophets is fast approaching.Its now a scramble for spoils before the final whistle is blown.

    tariro - 11 February 2015

    i here the site for the new city is the original site for Salisbury but the pioneer column got lost and established it at Kopje instead. any new capital city should be established at least 60km from Harare. they could turn gweru kwekwe masvingo kadoma or even chinhoyi. either way doesnt seem like a great idea. it seems like an idea that would have worked wonders 30 years ago

    john willian hampden - 12 February 2015

    In my own opinion this is a welcome development as Harare is too congested and the streets are too narrow. Another city will invite new investors and this will bring economic boom to the country.

    medion kasvatutsa - 12 February 2015

    You should be worry of the mere fact that the area is still under the jurisdiction of Zvimba District, so you are answered !!!!!! Mudhara na Chombo are drafting long term plans which will definitely benefit there Rural District Council. Asi hamuoni makasa acho kai MaDzimbabwe.

    KingZaka|| - 12 February 2015

    There is absolutely no need for a new Capital. When these useless people wake up and realize that survival of Harare is connected to the survival of Bulawayo Gweru and Mutare. For this country to even begin to get connected internationally there needs to be cooperation to get the other Cities working again. What these people did not forsee was that the de-industrialization of Bulawayo would affect Harare in a negative way. There are alot of reasons why Bulawayo was chosen as the industrial Capital of the then Rhodesia. We all know that the Smith regime were no fools where it came to the economy. This Government went out of its way to destroy Bulawayo which was tantamount to cutting of your own leg. If they are failing to get rid of potholes then the question must be how in the hell are they going to build roads in this new City. This government is too used of putting the cart before the horse that it is getting embarrassing. If you remember one of the Ministers some time ago suggesting that ships should dock in Zimbabwe via the Zambezi river. Silly people with silly ideas. Fix the structures you have first before you star building white elephants.

    Dr Do little - 12 February 2015

    Come on, cities are not constructed, they rather happen because of economic pull factors. What is there in Mt Hampden that will pull people?

    Kunda Kinde - 12 February 2015

    As I was growing up in the 80's there was talk of re-definíng the city centre by bulding new morden building and infrastructure at the Kopje area right into Belvedere . We were all thrilled...then. All that came out of it is "Sheraton" and the Shake-Shake building. Mugabe's rule is a disaster to development oriented people. It is perfect for fatalistic bootlickers who are told that their party affaiers are supreme to the Constitution of Zimbabwe which has provisions for all other political parties.

    selele - 12 February 2015

    Anyone who believes a Zanu pf chef is an retarded idiot. Has anybody seen the Master Plan for this cuckoo land city that has been provisionally named 'MugsCity' One rule of thumb is that Zanu imbeciles are doing to the country that what they should be doing to their spouses. Chombo's nickname is the "taxidermist" – he stuff everything he touches.

    Dududza Veterai - 12 February 2015

    Irrespective of current difficulties we need to go ahead.the new capital city is now long overdue we should have had it few years ago on our cards.lets look at how Hre is now congested and now becoming a mess.Its not only about government but all Zimbabwean businesspeople willing to invest in properties there is a great opportunity and as well as other foreign investors,however,the cards have to played accordingly for the good of the country and not some selfish and kakistocratic government and party bigwigs we have always known to be on the centre of scandals

    carson macate - 12 February 2015

    Madhakanana chaiwo. Ma Zimbabweans anoitwa sevana ve Creche chaivo, kana kuri kutya kufa iiiih zvakanyanya, asi muchangofaka!

    Alfredo Zongho - 12 February 2015

    Seriously, is this a joke or something. Clean Harare first, put more public clean toilets, more clean running water. Plant flowers in First street, make stalls for all those vendors. First street is really an embarrassment now and u talk of another city-Shame.

    NZ - 12 February 2015

    The country needs a modern city and don't forget Salisbury was planned for few, now that most people have moved into Harare, the town is congested. The roads are narrow, drainage pipes very old to accommodate increased population. Most buildings in Harare are old, over their life span to withstand an earth quake or even heavy rains. It would create employment opportunities and easy housing huddle plus accommodation. Some people will move out to stay in new city. Harare is over populated, no wonder wear and tear is rapid on roads, toilets etc which makes cleaning or keeping the city clean a challenge to City Council. Citizens you play your part by not dumping rubbish every where and expect someone to do the cleaning. Be wise some rubbish can be turned to manure for your home gardens.

    Edgar - 12 February 2015

    all this kind of thinking is out of greedness if they they think harare is congested why cant they simply change the capital city to GWERU or BULAWAYO and refurbish the old buildings . it will much ideal to BYO which has an existing state house and air port, food for thought.

    godlwayo - 13 February 2015

    its the way forward .harare is under a lot of pressure.thumbs up to mugabe and co.

    emmanuel - 18 February 2015

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