Politically-connected land barons have allegedly taken over most open spaces in Harare prejudicing the local authority of millions of dollars in potential revenue.
Consequently, the local authority has slowly lost control of the open space with both Zanu PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) raising a red flag while accusing each other of blowing wind beneath the space barons’ wings.
The barons are not only taking over open space for vending purposes but also targeting residential stands.
Council Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) committee chairperson Denford Ngadziore told Business Times that the invasion of open spaces by the barons from either political side was both criminal and illegal.
“During the festive season politically-connected space barons have invaded Harare,” he said while mentioning the takeover of Fourth Street bus terminus meant for travellers.
“The space barons have erected illegal flea markets and container tuck-shops riding on political affiliation,” he said.
“This is the same situation throughout Harare. Look at what is happening in Mbare, Glenview, Kuwadzana, Mabvuku, especially Harare South near Boka along Beatrice Road. We have been advised that the space barons are planning to take over Market Square Bus Terminus and Copacabana Rank.”
He said some of the barons have erected structures on top of sewer pipes and waterlines.
“Only council through revenue officers are mandated to collect revenues from any trader in Harare.
It is only through market officers that are supposed to allocate trading place and officers can only allocate after the approval by the SMEs committee after the plan has been done.”
“It is high time we enforce council by laws with the help of police so that we make sure those collecting money from desperate traders are removed and arrested.”
Government recently admitted to the politicisation of major markets in Harare Metropolitan province.
Authorities have been fretting over potential reopening of the once populous Mupedzanhamo market amid political tensions.
Last month, land barons assaulted Harare City Council employees who were allocated stands in Mabvuku.
Land barons went on to confiscate that land despite the employees getting assistance from Harare Metropolitan Police.