Residents protest sale of Harare Gardens

WITH the sale of Harare Gardens almost complete, Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) has urged residents to resist the sale.

In 2015 Africa Sun (Pvt) (Ltd) proposed to buy about 2,205 hectares of the Harare Gardens for the expansion of the adjacent Monomotapa Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Last week, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere issued a legal notice in the Government Gazette seeking residents’ input over the proposed sale of a portion of the park.

Chra chief executive officer Mfundo Mlilo said the sale of part of Harare Gardens’ amounts to privatisation of a public space which has over the years acted as a recreational facility for Harare residents.

“In 2015, Chra engaged the Harare City Council in a bid to oppose the sale of part of the Harare Gardens and our position still stands. We are concerned that the park is slowly shrinking as a result of various “private projects” which will eventually make it inaccessible to ordinary members of the public.

“Also, there has not been sufficient debate on the impact of the sale of part of the Harare Gardens. The broke Harare City Council is now seeking to raise funds by encroaching into public spaces and in the process, making them inaccessible to the general public,” Mlilo said.

He said the park is a recreational area and wetland and if need be residents will mobilise and petition against its sale.

“Politicians and other authorities are hiding behind the concept of development to authorise developments on undesignated spaces and the same is about to happen to Harare Gardens. The park has a historical value which must be preserved and this is only achievable through protecting the area from private interests,” he said.

Mabvuku councillor Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi has been objecting to the sale of the park arguing that it will deprive residents of recreational facilities.

He argued that many people use the park in between work breaks to get relief from the stress of everyday work.
“This is not right. We just cannot sell the land without carefully thinking through the idea. Residents will be disenfranchised by this sale,” he said.

According to finance committee minutes, the developments would link up the car-park, Les Browne swimming pool, hotel and National Arts Gallery.

Initial calculations by finance director Tendai Kwenda had priced the garden at an open market rate of $80 per square metre translating into $1,760 million putting into consideration its prime location.
—Helen Kadirire

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