Consult residents not the Chinese

The Combined Harare Residents Association has noted with deep concern an article carried in the Sunday Mail of 17 November 2013 titled “President instructs Chitungwiza to be modelled into a Morden City”.

As the Combined Harare Residents Association, we are for the move to have surrounding towns and boards being converted into modern cities to enable industrialization and social integration; however we are concerned with the process and contents of the arrangement. In the article written by an unnamed Sunday Mail reporter, we note with great interest the following quotations:

“President Mugabe has instructed the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to convert Chitungwiza Town into a proper city and the ministry has already engaged a Chinese company that has been assigned the task of coming up with plans of turning the dormitory town into a modern metropolis…

…The Chinese company, Hennon Guogi, described as one of the leading real estate development companies in the Asian country, has over the past seven months been carrying out studies on how best the President’s wish can come to fruition”.

To begin with as CHRA we commend the urbanization of smaller towns and local boards. However, we learn in this article three worrying things.Firstly, the issue of prioritisation and reverse priority mapping. It is clear that the President’s wish is to see Chitungwiza being turned into a City.

Had he taken time to do an in-depth study of the challenges in Chitungwiza one would realise that the issue is not about the Town or City status of Chitungwiza, the real issues are the underlying problems which include housing and sewer and water reticulation. There is virtually no water in Chitungwiza and outbreaks of communicable diseases is quite rampant.

The sewer system is heavily overloaded hence residents continue to experience incessant sewer bursts. There is a crisis of housing which has manifested itself in illegal settlements sprouting in the periphery of the dormitory town. These are the issues which need to be dealt with first before taking the debate to the dizzy levels of mooting a City Status. A City with high unemployment and poor social service delivery cannot sustain itself.

Secondly, we are worried by the continued trust and investment on the Chinese technology and human capital. We have become a major contributor to the Chinese economy ahead of our own economy where we always award tenders and contracts to the Chinese without considering our own human capital. We have an unemployment rate that is estimated to be standing at 80% and our own government ignores this.

The majority of tenders (including the 144m loan for H.C.C) we have are going to these people and this is adversely affecting our very own industrial rehabilitation and resuscitation program. We have a very competent human capital base (especially real estate development) that is servicing other growing economies that include South-Sudan, Zambia and East Africa.

The issue of the City status being granted to Chitungwiza, we would like the ministry to undertake consultations to our fellow residents in Chitungwiza and come up with a framework that could be used in the design of a service delivery strategy to sustain the growing town.

It is of paramount importance to always take not of the needs of the community rather than refer to respective manifestos. While it is always important to fulfil your promises as a party, these have got to be galvanized by the social needs of residents living in community and create what is known as social ownership of government initiated programs.

This statement has been necessitated by the living condition of our fellow comrades in Chitungwiza and other areas that surround Harare. CHRA works with the following residents association in Chitungwiza:

Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association (CHIPRA)

Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST)

Chitungwiza Residents Association (CHIRRA)

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