Lawlessness in Harare has to stop

GLEN NORAH residents were recently baffled to wake up to an army of invaders that had settled themselves on a piece of land close to the community hall.

The aliens paced up and down the now-cleared piece of land, which is on the banks of a little stream that snakes through the high-density suburb, pegging their stands.

Even as we write this, housing structures are slowly taking shape.

It is not clear who parcelled out the land to the occupiers, but what is clear is that whatever is happening in that area is illegal.

It doesn’t take an expert to see that the land in question is clearly not suitable for residential property development, or any other development for that matter.

Not only is it perilously and hazardously close to the stream, but the legally laid down procedures of property development, as stipulated by the law and city by-laws, have clearly not been followed.

In any case, parallel development, where stand owners are allowed to set up temporary structures while onsite and offsite infrastructure is being established, has since been put on hold.

Further, a stone’s throw away from Glen Norah Community Hall, the recreational park, which is sandwiched between High Glen Road and Zvimba Road, is being chipped away and allocated to churches, colleges, et cetera.

What is worrying is that these cases in Glen Norah are not isolated.

Last weekend, Glen View residents took advantage of Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga’s visit at St Matthews Catholic Church to register their disquiet about an infill — traditionally used as a car park and convenient thoroughfare for Glen View 2 Primary School learners — that had been illegally taken over and fenced off.

Such lawlessness is just but a microcosm of a citywide problem.

For example, housing structures are taking shape at an open space adjacent the industrial zone along Coventry Road; so as at many open spaces in Budiriro, Mufakose, Kuwadzana, among others.

However, the degeneration of the capital is not confined to the brazen and illegal occupation of land, but the flagrant disregard of by-laws.

It is now not uncommon to see people milling around and publicly drinking beer at sprouting liquor centres dotted around the capital, especially during the evening.

The hazards associated with this are quite apparent.

At a recently opened pub in the alley — yes, alley — that abuts the City Parking parkade along Nelson Mandela Avenue, they have even taken it a step further.

They now barbecue in the open while patrons enjoy themselves outdoors.

And this is happening right in the city centre.

As outlandish as this might sound and seem, it is sadly true.

It is a graphic illustration of how the city has gone to the dogs.

It has since prompted the Liquor Licensing Board to issue a statement warning the liquor outlets “to adhere to operating hours according to the terms of their licences”.

“The Liquor Licensing Board, as the regulatory and controlling authority of the liquor industry in Zimbabwe, is concerned over the failure by some licensed liquor outlets to adhere to operating hours according to the terms of their licences,” read a statement issued yesterday.

“It is important to note that the Liquor Licensing Board takes these violations seriously and will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any liquor outlet found to be in contravention of the law. This may include revoking the license or imposing fines.”

What is also clear is that the major problem is the Harare City Council’s failure to scrupulously enforce city by-laws.

The absence and dereliction of duty by municipal police creates a vacuum in which lawlessness thrives, be it vendors roasting maize cobs on pavements, pirate taxis driving against the flow of traffic and vandals destroying the city’s infrastructure. What is worse is that in all this, the Harare City Council is loudly silent. It seems the centre no longer holds.

It is high time that city fathers take seriously their role of policing the precincts of the capital and restoring sanity and order.

Residents, too, have to exercise their civic duty to object to illegal developments taking place in the city. Something has to give, lest the face of the capital is slowly grotesquely deformed.

We all have a duty to put a stop to this.



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