By Staff Reporter
AUTHORITIES in the city of Mutare have come under fire from local youths for allegedly converting recreational facilities in high density areas into business premises.
Youth rights group, Manica Youths Assembly (MAYA) said the city was planning to enter into an agreement with Mutare Informal Traders Association (MITA) and turn Sakubva Beit hall or ground around the hall into a flea market.
“For the avoidance of doubt, MAYA does not in a way oppose the setting up of flea markets or other programmes that are meant to economically empower residents.
“However, it is our humbly considered view that such programmes should not come at the expense of young people who in this case will be losers if the proposal to turn Beit hall into flea market subsists,” said MAYA in a statement.
The group said the consequences of turning the facility into a flea market ordinarily made economic sense but will bring no strategic value for youths who for long have witnessed the gradual capture of their spaces.
“Sakubva swimming pool is in a state of despair, Chinyausunzu grounds, Dangamvura grounds (now market), Chikanga Sport field (Harleem) now a market.
“This shows a clear lack of interest and will be part of duty bearers regarding provision of youth friendly spaces and services. Wherever there are economic considerations, then the interest of youths must be protected and upheld. They are not for sale,” said MAYA.
The group said turning social amenities into markets will be a reversal of constitutionally stated objectives which will result in youths engaging in anti-social activities because they have nowhere to positively expend their energies.
“Many youths are engaging in drugs, violence, petty crime and sex ostensibly because they have nothing to do.
“The recreational centre where they should meet and engage in various sports and social activities are no more because they have been turned into business centres.
“This is tantamount to a society fighting its own future for the love of money and we strongly condemn this ‘Iscariot mentality’, Let youths breathe, Mutare is not short of flea market space,” said MAYA.
For years, the youths group said Sakubva Beit hall was regarded as a youth centre which provided a facility for both indoor and outdoor activities.
“There is a library and child learning centre as well which will definitely be rendered useless if the plan to bring a flea market there succeeds. Where will students study if there is a flea market?
“There is a saying, “investing in youths is investing in a nation”, and we urge our city fathers and mothers to walk the talk by protecting and advancing the cause for youths by sparing Sakubva Beithall for the youths.
“There are many council facilities especially beerhalls such as Chinyausunzu old bar and Maonde which can be turned into flea markets and council may get better returns from under used real estates,” said the youth-based group.
MAYA insisted that council should look for alternative places to locate flea markets besides recreational facilities.