Zanu PF to blame for CBD chaos

HARARE - While over the years the MDC-led Harare City Council has been accused of promoting lawlessness in the central business district (CBD), President Robert Mugabe recently let the cat out of the bag when he revealed that it was actually his party officials who have been blocking the cleaning operation as they were afraid of losing elections.

Vendors have virtually taken over street pavements and roads in the CBD, forcibly pushing out pedestrians and cars.

The vendors are rude and harass pedestrians who mistakenly knock down their wares which are paraded on street pavements.

In the evening, trucks loaded with groceries set up shop on the roads where they are joined by hundreds of pushcart fruit and vegetable vendors.

It is even uglier during knock-off time as workers from different directions converge in the city where they connect home.

The human traffic is so heavy and innocent people have lost wallets and valuables to pick-pockets and thieves who take advantage of the congestion to prey on unsuspecting pedestrians.

For a visiting tourist the order can be mistaken for a mini-market festival as braai stands have also found their way on the pavements.

The kombis and mushika-shikas, on the other hand, have become the “little kings” on the city’s roads picking up passengers everywhere while also dangerously ignoring the one-way lane roads.

You have to be a good driver to drive in some roads in the CBD and those living in Harare now know very well which roads not to use but for the visitor, who suddenly finds himself/herself trapped in these zones, this could be a nightmare.

The kombis and mushika-shikas drive on wrong lanes and are of the habit of entering red traffic lights at will.

But surprisingly, while joint efforts by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Harare municipal police have failed dismally to bring order and sanity in the CBD, it is interesting that this was a deliberate ploy by the ruling Zanu PF.

Mugabe, while addressing the Zanu PF youth league national assembly at the party’s headquarters in Harare said: “…Mai Hanyani tichiburuka kubva kuSouth Africa…vakachema vachiti Harare yangova tsvina yoga…Toita sei? Tatadza kuvasunga…Tikaedza vakuru veparty vanoti aiwa rega kudaro waakuda kutiruzisa maelections. Zvino tongobata veopposition chete here? (Harare is just dirt. What do we do? We are failing to arrest them because party seniors they will lose elections. So do we arrest only those from the opposition?)”

So that is it Mr President, it is your senior party officials who all along have been fighting the cleaning up of the CBD because they are afraid of losing elections.

Shockingly, Mugabe said he only learnt about the CBD’s situation last week when he was coming from South Africa.

Which city is the president living in because this is not new to some of us who live in the capital city as it has been like this for years now?

This also shows that successive Local Government ministers have been lying to Mugabe that everything in the CBD was in order.

The president is also to blame because he is not taking time to see for himself some of these things on the ground, hence being fed half-baked truths. And one wonders how much more of the country’s rot his ministers are hiding from him.

The state of affairs on CBD streets and roads has become a security issue, threatening the peace that pedestrians and motorists used to enjoy to such an extent that the help of the ZRP should be enlisted to clear the streets of this cancer.

We know the security sector is controlled by officials sympathetic to Zanu PF through ministers of Home Affairs and Defence; hence they could not in the past fully support municipal police.

But after Mugabe’s pronouncement that this indiscipline of letting vendors and mushika-shika take control of the CBD should stop, we hope to see movement from the relevant ministries.

We also hope that Zanu PF and, especially the Local Government minister will stop blaming the MDC-led council for the chaos in the CBD because now we know the root cause of the problem.

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