Scaling the CLEAN up to anti-littering

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Since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from former President Robert Mugabe, there has been a serious drive to market Zimbabwe as a viable investment destination. The catch phrase has been: Zimbabwe is open for business. The mantra is a clarion call for investors to do business with the country. Zimbabwe aims to become a middle-income economy by 2030.

By Kowanai Mhlanga

As foreign investors are enticed, naturally they would want to visit and see for themselves what Zimbabwe is like on the ground. Their first port of call is Harare. But Harare is no longer the Sunshine City of yesteryear. The capital has not only experienced fully blown up ‘neo-liberalism’ but has collapsed under the weight of a sluggish economic performance; poor governance, notwithstanding political demagoguery.

The then First Lady Grace Mugabe, buoyed by the power she wielded and abused, in an effort to endear herself with the supporters; remarked during an address at a rally that women should be allowed to trade their goods in streets, uninterrupted. With those remarks, what then followed is there for everyone to see.

Although urban local authorities might have `autonomous powers` over the governance of the city through an Act of Parliament as well as under Section 264 and 265 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, they just stood by as they could not so anything. Urban environments and in particular, Harare streets, became impassable and disorderly.

Can we confidently and honestly argue that the current clean-up campaign in Harare Metropolitan Province, other cities and towns in Zimbabwe, is negatively affecting the enfranchisement of urban residents?  Could the widespread unemployment currently bedevilling the country be used as the passport for disorder, dirt and discarding of Ubuntu?

It is my considered view that the current clean-up campaign being carried out by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Municipal police be sustained and carried over to the anti-litter campaign. The country’s cities and Harare in particular are saddled with high volumes of solid waste. This horse-trading between residents and urban local authorities; wherein local authorities are accusing residents of wanton littering while residents accuse local authorities of failing to timeously collect garbage should end. The impact of solid waste on humans and the environment is costly. This cholera outbreak and its impact on humanity could have been avoided.

If it means a rigorous anti-litter campaign in urban areas, anchored on positivity, let it be done. Rwanda is an example of an African country whose cities are a marvel to live in. And Zimbabwe can do that. After all, we cannot be open for business with this amount of dirt and indiscipline. Commuter omnibus operators must toe the line. Uncontrolled freedom should be checked. The habit of flouting traffic regulations should come to the end. If freedom means indiscipline and dirt within city centres, then let it be taken away.

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