The Magistrates' Courts are not willing to pass deterrent sentences against pirate taxis and street vendors wreaking havoc in the city centre and have rendered some roads impassable, the Harare City Council charged yesterday.
Responding to remarks by newly-appointed Prosecutor-General, Advocate Ray Goba, who accused the council of allowing the city to be turned into a jungle, Harare corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said the Attorney General's Office had undermined the city's efforts to strengthen by-laws.
"It is an open secret that council has always taken pirates and vendors to the courts," said Mr Chideme.
"We feel they (courts) have let us down because they are not passing punitive sentences to deter the practices. In fact, our officers have been imprisoned for trying to correct the situation or for doing the correct things," he said.
"We also remove unsanctioned adverts and in some cases take the offenders to court, but the courts have let us down," he said.
He added that council was in the process of launching 24-hour patrols in the city.
On urban cultivation, Mr Chideme said the city had embraced the practice in selected areas as it offered food sustenance for some urban families.
He said the AG's Office had also declined efforts by the city to simplify some of its by-laws for easier enforcement.
Harare was forced to amend its traffic by-laws after the AG's Office declined to allow municipal police to use force to enforce by-laws as well as extending the central business district into the Avenues area.
Council had proposed the insertion of a clause which provides for the use of "reasonable force" by its officers to overcome resistance by kombi drivers and others who violated traffic regulations. The AG's Office said reasonable force was subjective and objected to the use of spikes.
The council said the AG's Office had declined provisions it had approved for Bulawayo City Council.
Mr Chideme said council welcomed the idea by Adv Goba to give municipal police arresting powers as well as the establishment of municipal courts to deal with petty offenders.
"We have been lobbying our parent ministry for such powers. We fully embrace arresting powers and municipal courts. The arresting powers are going to deal with all issues raised, which have been the major problems," he said.
In an interview with The Herald on Thursday, Adv Goba said the Harare council had allowed standards to deteriorate by letting street vendors and pirate taxis to do as they please in the CBD. He said city by-laws were not being enforced.