Harare City Council faces a tall order to turn the capital’s “dirty” and “smelly” central business district, particularly Robert Mugabe Way, into a pleasant environment in preparation for what is now known as the Bigtime Harare International Festival, it has emerged.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
Running under the theme, One Love, Our Unity, Our Pride, this year’s fiesta is set for September 1 to 10 and will attract representatives from over 25 countries.
Harare City Council has of late been castigated for the deplorable state of the city whose ambition to reach world-class status by 2025 now appears like a pie in the sky.
But, in only seven weeks, the council is expected to miraculously give a facelift to virtually the busiest road in Harare, where the street march will take place on September 9.
“We have teams that are going to go around and cleaning but we are also encouraging citizens not to litter as well as informal traders to respect designated vending sites,” council spokesperson Michael Chideme said.
“It is everybody’s responsibility because if we clean but people continue to litter then we are not doing anything.”
The city’s efforts have been sabotaged by littering, rampant vending and errant pirate taxis, but Chideme said efforts should involve the public to succeed.
“The carnival is not a Harare City Council issue, but it is a national issue and the nation’s eyes will be on Harare so the whole nation needs to participate to create a city we want foreigners to see,” he said.
Prospects of making the streets clean and pleasant come at a time a joint effort by the Harare City Council and the Zimbabwe Republic Police failed to remove vendors and pirate public transport operators from the city centre.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi complained about the level of littering in Harare, saying it was making it difficult for him to market the city.
However, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief operations officer Givemore Chidzidzi said transformation of the road to world-class standards was part of their “legacy project” to leave a tangible mark of development after the 10-day fête.
“In partnership with our headline sponsor we would like to transform Robert Mugabe Way in its current state as a street it has become a shame not only to individuals but to the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bigtime Strategic Group appears to have successfully breathed life into the event which was last year scrapped off the calendar due to lack of funding.
The carnival is believed to be an event presenting many opportunities for the formal and informal sectors.
Chidzidzi said the ZTA was expecting a bumper crowd of three million people on the day of the Street march and party which will have the main stage at the Robert Mugabe Square.
Festival-goers will be treated to Brazilian samba once more as the South American girls will once again headline this year’s edition of the cultural fête which has been rebranded “Big Time Harare International Carnival”.