Hundreds of informal businesses in Harare’s central business district on Friday lost property worth thousands of dollars when Old Mutual demolished their structures to pave way for the construction of a multi-million-dollar modern market for small to medium enterprises.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Council spokesperson Michael Chideme confirmed the local authority had sanctioned the demolitions.
“The owners of the property want to introduce a modern market for the informal sector that resonates with our city’s vision of being a world class city by 2025,” Chideme said.
The affected traders were operating along Robert Mugabe Way opposite Eastgate Mall in an area stretching from Wayne Street through 3rd Street to Simon Muzenda Street.
The destroyed structures included a car sales, tuck shops and offices.
According to some of the affected people who were still trying to recover some of their wares, council employees descended on the area at around 5pm on Friday as most of them were winding up their business for the day.
One of the occupants yesterday said Old Mutual was involved in a legal battle with war veterans who also claimed ownership of the property but lost the case in the courts.
“We really don’t know what is happening here. We just heard that Old Mutual wants to do some development and people who were claiming ownership — the war veterans — lost the case.
“We are now trying to find a place to put our things so that we continue with our business,” said the affected businessman.
The traders were accused of erecting illegal structures. They said they were not given any chance to move their wares before a bulldozer was used to bring the structures down.