By Leopold Munhende
THE Harare City Council could be making as much as US$5 billion per year from Mbare alone if it was opened up and managed managed well, former mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has said.
Masunda was sharing his opinions with journalists during Mayor Herbert Gomba’s State of the City Address (SOCA) at Town House on Tuesday.
The British trained lawyer was at the helm of council between the highly politicised 2008 and 2013 period, when a Zanu PF linked militant group, Chipangano shut the municipality out of the city’s oldest city suburb resulting in loss of revenue and business for the local authority.
“It is not the city’s responsibility on its own, but everyone’s that the oldest township in this country is renewed, regenerated so that we can upgrade the standards of living in that part of the city. As the Mayor said, once we get Harare working, we would have got the whole of Zimbabwe working.
“As things stand, following the informalisation of our economy, there is about US$4 billion to US$5 billion dollars in and around Mbare,” said Masunda.
“It is a matter we need to tackle with vigour and need to be mindful of the sensitivities involved.”
Mbare has the capital’s main farm produce market and is at the centre of the country’s transport sector.
The worsening economic crisis has resulted in an influx of people into the already overpopulated area and the proliferation of informal trade due to the high unemployment rate.
Masunda, who, during his tenure, lost control of the Mbare flats to Chipangano, bemoaned how he had to stall a US$20 million cash injection into the city by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the area’s development, months after the Zanu PF aligned group refused to have the area spruced up for US$45 million by the same organisation.
Council only regained control of the last of the two flats in Chipangano control early this year.
MDC councillors and MPs have in the past been chased out of the area by the violent group that troubled residents and visitors in the 2008 election period.
The area is however currently under MDC.