A wing of one of the biggest arts hub in Harare, Moto Republik is on the verge of being demolished influenced by obscure circumstances that are believed to be political, The Standard Style has learnt.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
The front structure made of shipping containers at the centre was almost pulled down by the city council last Thursday.
The unprecedented action was stopped by Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni who reportedly professed ignorance as to where the council workers got the directive to pull the triple storey building down.
Moto Republik has since been issued with a seven day notice to remove the containers completely or the city fathers will “assist them to pull them down.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Moto Republik founder Samm “Cde Fatso” Monro said he was surprised by the turn of events, claiming that the local authority had approved the building plan in the first place.
“Those are fully approved city council plans by every single department in the local authority. On top of that, we have paid regularisation fees to the council on various occasions,” said Cde Fatso.
“Our issue with what happened yesterday [Thursday] is beyond the fact that they are trying to destroy a positive space of inspiration for young people, it is also on the legal basis.
“How can city council issue plans and then come to demolish, how can they make us pay regularisation fees and then come to say they want to destroy it?”
Over 20 council officers are reported to have besieged the place without a court order, citing a 1974 by-law against last year’s High Court ruling that no demolitions can be undertaken without the document.
Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme said the action was well within the law, suggesting that documents issued to the arts hub were bogus.
“There is a demolition order to pull down this structure because it is an illegal one and it was constructed without the council’s approval. We had given them a six-months’ notice some time ago,” said Chideme.
“Now we have given them a week to pull it down, so if they fail by Thursday next, we will come and assist them.”
Cde Fatso shot down the argument and questioned the priorities of the authorities for putting to waste “close to $100 000 that has gone to this structure and the city”, adding that such moves would thwart the city’s prospects of becoming world class by 2025.
“What are the priorities of the council when they want to destroy a youth centre as opposed to just fixing the potholes that are dotted around our entire roads system? We are not doing anything illegal here,” he said.
Although he professed ignorance on what could have influenced the move, he suggested that if the action was not a direct plot then there should be removal of some shipping container structures dotted across the CBD, including some he said were at some Zimbabwe Republic Police posts.
In the wake of an imminent demolition, Twitter caught fire over the issue.
Responding to the now trending #SaveMotoRepublik hashtag and a petition to stop the demolition on micro blogging space Twitter, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere said he would talk to the mayor to reverse the decision.
“We will engage the city mayor and I will appeal to him to save Moto Republik as it is a centre that empowers young people,” posted Kasukuwere.
It is still uncertain who is fooling who in the whole case as both politicians have not taken responsibility for the directive.
However, a large section of critics has seen this as a way of reprimanding Cde Fatso, who is a known critic of the government and public administration and has been in the spotlight in the past for taunting the authorities through satire.
His politically-charged productions include the satirical Zambezi News and The Week, where he has featured political activists like Evan Mawarire, Sten Zvorwadza and Promise Mkwananzi.
On whether the development would affect his works, Cde Fatso pledged to continue despite the demolition, if it indeed comes to pass.
“We are fighting to keep the structures up but the worst case scenario is that the structure comes down and we will operate even if the structure is down,” he said.
“We will reimagine, re-innovate and continue because we are not going anywhere. These old ways of thinking will die well before we do.”
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