Council, ZRP vow to ban urban agriculture

The Harare City Council now has the blessing of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to slash crops grown in the city in an effort to curb environmental degradation brought about by urban farming. The move has received with mixed feelings from residents and political parties.

With the coming of a new growing season, all places without buildings on them are being cultivated. These include football, netball and basketball pitches, road-sides and recreational parks as well as wetlands. This has resulted in serious environmental degradation including soil erosion and siltation. Most drains in the city in such places like Glen Norah, Tafara, Highfield, Kambuzuma and Mufakose are blocked with soil resulting in flooding that sometimes affects the sewerage system.

This has put enormous pressure on the city council as it fights bursting sewer pipes and flooding with mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water. City Council health services director, Dr. Stanley Mungofa, has said the city’s health institutions are battling an increase in water-borne diseases like dysentery and malaria owing to poor water management systems including the blockage of drainage pipes and stagnant water brought about by urban agriculture.

ZRP Harare Province Spokesperson, Inspector James Sabau confirmed that the police has given a green light to the council to slash crops to enforce the ban on urban agriculture.

“Criminals are taking advantage of crops like maize to hide and attack people and rob them of their valuable possessions. Recently there has been an increase in rape cases, Banning urban agriculture is one way of curbing these crimes,” Sabau said.

The MDC, which has a majority in the city council, has embraced the idea of banning urban agriculture, insisting it had the reduction of environmental degradation as one of its priority in the city.

Zanu (PF) on the other hand, with its waning popularity in the city, is saying banning urban agriculture is the work of enemies who want to scuttle the president’s generous donations of seed and fertilizer to urban supporters of the former ruling party.

“VaMugabe as the champion of agriculture and food security is saying let’s use land, our valuable birthright to maximum use to ensure there is food on everyone’s table. The MDC and its friends in the west have always been against agriculture by opposing land reforms that benefit the poor,” said war veteran and Zanu (PF) activist, Adam Choga, a Highfield resident opposed to the proposed slashing of the crops.

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