Epworth community moves at own pace

JUST 12km outside the central business district of Harare lies a dormitory town which is administered by a local board.
This poor high density suburb is also a historic place where the two balancing rocks on most of the defunct Zimbabwean dollar notes are located.

Domboramwari, loosely translated as the rock of the Lord, is also found in this scenic area. Welcome to Epworth. A day spent in Epworth leaves one with the feeling that they have visited another country because of alarming rate of crime and poverty.
The community moves at its own pace and people live according to their own rules. Munyuki Shopping Centre at Domboramwari is abuzz with activity, with the many bottle stores and supermarkets.

At one such bottle store-cum-bar, scantily dressed women puffing on cigarettes and holding quarts of beer are a common sight.

Inside the dingy looking joint, more women sit on the bar’s counter, seemingly waiting for some sort of action to take place. Every now and again, male and female patrons retire to the back of the bar, only to emerge minutes later.

Upon enquiry, it is said that the back harbours a small room that is used as a brothel by the bar owner for a fee.
“The room is only $2 for 10 minutes if you want to use it. There is a bed and some blankets if you feel cold,” the bartender said.
However, the presence of this reporter in the bar does not go down well with the female patrons who accuse her of invading their territory.

Moments later, the shatter of glass can be heard and a few seconds later, a man emerges from the bar bleeding from the forehead — he had been attacked with a beer bottle.
This scene is not only familiar at Munyuki but almost everywhere in Epworth where debauchery is the norm.

Cohabiting between a young woman and older man was described by one resident as “kuvaka musha” loosely translated as starting a home together.

This scene is a sharp contrast from the Epworth which was founded in 1890 by Reverend Shimmin as a Methodist Mission Station.

Ironically, adjacent to the hive of bars/brothels is a Muslim mosque, a conservative religion that does not condone the practices in its vicinity.

Zanu PF Ward 1 councillor Elina Mazhandu told the Weekend Post development efforts were frustrated by members of the party.

She said several developmental projects such as regularisation of stands were being scuttled because of infighting in the party.
With a population of nearly   200 000, Epworth residents live in poor and squalid conditions as very few homes are connected to water, sewer and electricity services.

This unfortunate development can be attributed to the local board’s failure to regularise and service stands. Epworth has since been targeted by government as one of the areas where illegal structures will be demolished.

“Our own Zanu PF members, who are power-hungry losers, are putting obstacles in our way so that we are not re-elected in the 2018 elections. They want to become councillors so that they can gloat at being the ones who developed Epworth so that we are branded as failures.

“Our own people are against us. However, the MDC is actually backing us to move ahead with development programmes in Epworth.

“We reported the matter to our party superiors and that caused people like Goodwills Masimirembwa to be kicked out of the party leadership because of constantly interfering with our activities here,” Mazhandu said.

Mazhandu added that the interference and lack of development has seen Epworth being turned into a haven for criminals.
She said cases of sexual abuse are usually thrown out of court because the rapists would be difficult to locate.
“The rapists would commit a crime while staying in a certain area of Epworth and when the police come with the intention of arresting the perpetrator, they would be gone.

“Apart from that, many people who commit crimes in Harare end up running to Epworth to seek refuge because there are no fixed addresses in the area. However, we are now in the process of regularising the area by clearly marking stands and giving them proper addresses for ease of identification,” Mazhandu said.
An Epworth resident, Liliosa Matsatse said the politicians, mostly from Zanu PF, were also intimidating people who support development initiatives with unspecified action.

“Politicians should just leave councillors alone to do their work. Non-governmental organisations bringing aid to Epworth are also being targeted. These people should know that they must not always politicise everything,” she said.—Helen Kadirire

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