The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: City, Dealers Up in Arms

HARARE car dealers are up in arms with Harare City Council over the demolition of illegal car sales arguing the city was out to thwart black empowerment. The city is issuing 48-hour demolition notices to car dealers urging them to remove their vehicles and built structures failure of which council or its agents would demolish the car sales and passes the cost to the dealers.

Deliberations on the sales has dominated nearly all of Harare's full council meetings with councillors complaining over the mushrooming of the facilities -some of which are very unsightly and hunkered in front of million dollar properties.

City spokesman Mr Leslie Gwindi hit back saying council could not allow disorderliness and anybody to distract its "journey to a world class city by 2025".

"We are not going back. We want an orderly and well planned city," he said.

He said by demolishing the illegal structures -- the city was responding to residents' outcry to beautify the city and to remove "unsightly" structures.

He said vehicle dealers were occupying every open space. The exercise, which started last Thursday, has already seen the demolition of car sales opposite Prince Edward High School.

Notices have also been issued against dealers on Corner Golden Quarry Road and Bulawayo Road.

The city is using a 1979 by-law to enforce the demolitions.

"Notice is hereby given that you are occupying land illegally as you have either a lease or permission of council," reads part of the demolition notice.

Most of the dealers do not have valid leases or were illegally allowed to operate by some corrupt officials.

"The notice is too short. We want the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban development to intervene. We want at least a month to vacate," said Mr Clifford Mushonga.

Managing director of Culport car sales Mr Keith Musimbo said the land occupied by car dealers is underutilised.

"This is our survival. We are putting under utilised land to good use," he said.

He said the demolitions were undermining the indigenisation of the economy.

Mr Munyaradi Makaza said the dealers were mounting a huge fight against council.

"We will fight back," he said.

Some property owners have been complaining over the car sales arguing the structures were affecting the value of their properties.

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