12 July 2012

Zimbabwe: Council Approves U.S.$100 Million Shopping Mall

HARARE City Council has approved the construction of Zimbabwe's biggest shopping complex, the US$100 million Mall of Zimbabwe in Borrowdale.

The approval flies in the face of reports in some sections of the media that council would not approve the construction of the mall. The environment management committee met on Tuesday and approved the construction of the state-of-the-art mall.

Committee chair, Clr Stewart Mutizwa, confirmed the approval to be adopted by full council in two weeks time.

"We have finally resolved that the Mall of Zimbabwe is a good project. We have approved it," he said.

Clr Mutizwa said the Mall of Zimbabwe would go a long way in sprucing the city's image as it endevours to be a world class city by 2025.

He said city officials were now permitted to work closely with the property developers in their supervisory role.

"We are no longer distancing ourselves from the project," he said.

Chairman of the business committee, Clr Thomas Muzuva, said councillors had no power to stall the development of national projects.

"It's a national project. Cabinet has approved the project. Council is a substructure of Central Government. We cannot be seen going against national policies.

"Council has no power over Cabinet decisions. We cannot fight Cabinet," he said.

He said the land allocated for the construction of the mall was part of the payment to Augur Investments for the construction of the Airport Road, yet another national project.

"We agreed to pay Augur Investments with land on the agreement that Government would compensate us with land elsewhere. All that has not changed and why should we stand in the way of the project?" he said.

Although an Environmental Management Agency official was quoted in the press saying the agency had not approved the project - an internal memo signed on March 6, 2012 indicates that the project was approved.

"The project is a development of service infrastructure on a site allocated to it by the City of Harare in Borrowdale low-density suburb in Harare. The project cost covers roadworks, water reticulation and sewer reticulation," reads part of the memo.

The mall which is expected to start operating in October 2014 is located 7km from the CBD and situated on the land bounded by Borrowdale Road to the East, Whitwell to the North and Teviotdale to the West.

The mall would consist of a closed air-conditioned apartment made up of shops, restaurants, banks, recreational and fast foods.

The construction of the mall has been viewed in positive light as it sells Zimbabwe as a healthy investment centre. Estimates indicate that up to 4 000 people would be employed at the mall that has so far attracted big retailers like Pick'nPay, Mr Price, Woolworths, among other big brands.

The company contracted to construct the mall, McCommick Property Development, has built 49 other malls worth US$1 billion worldwide.

The company is currently working on projects in Mozambique, Swaziland and Burundi.

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