Harare residents Trust have castigated Environment Management Agency (EMA) and the Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Tafadzwa Muguti for attempting to hijack local authorities’ duties in addressing perennial challenges facing the city.
The HRT expressed its dissatisfaction after a joint press statement issued on 9 November 2022 by the duo announcing the launch of the zero tolerance to environmental crimes in Harare Metropolitan Province.
The residents association said the blitz, which is running from 10 November 2022 to 15 December 2022 disregarded the welfare of the ordinary people, majority of whom were in the informal sector.
“The HRT denounces the whole operation and recognises that it is ill-advised, immoral, illegal, unjustified and being conducted without due regard to the suffering of the majority of the residents who have no formal jobs to take care of their daily needs and priorities.
“Instead of the government intensifying its efforts to improve the well- being of the citizens, they have decided to wage a war on people who have not refused to occupy the modern infrastructure the government has constructed to accommodate the vendors.”
It castigated Muguti’s intervention tactics in solving the city’s problems as illegal and a huge source of conflict for local authorities and city residents.
“What Secretary Muguti is doing is illegal in many respects. Without formally established provincial and metropolitan councils as stated in sections 168 and 169 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Muguti’s office remains a secretariat for a governance structure that remains unrecognized in the constitution.”
Instead, the association challenged the government to adopt measures that address the root cause of the increasing number of people in the informal sector in solving the city’s problems rather than fighting them for its ineptitude.
“ Going forward, the government should support the work of local authorities by giving them arresting powers, create conditions for the transparent and accountable functioning of the informal sector, align the functions of the Office of the Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution to prevent its abuse, encourage cooperation and collaboration between the local authorities and the national government with local authorities being strengthened through the enactment of an Act of Parliament for devolution implementation,” .
The HRT said no demolitions must take place without obtaining court orders in compliance with the principle of the rule of law, adding that EMA should not contract private companies to collect garbage and expect local authorities to pay them.
“It should provide resources to the four local authorities in Harare Metropolitan Province for the massive construction of modernized working spaces for vendors in the province and pursue dialogue with people in the informal sector than always resort to force and coercive methods to implement public policy.”
Tafadzwa Muguti and EMA are being accused of declaring war on companies, shop owners, vendors and vendors in Harare City, Chitungwiza, Epworth and Ruwa for committing “environmental crimes” resulting in them joining hands in an inter-ministerial operation covering vendors, wetlands invasion, air pollution, public transporters’ environmental compliance, illegal sand poaching, including those selling bricks and sand without permits.
Muguti has in the past led previous demolition exercises overseen by the national government with no success.