Some Zanu PF activists, led by Harare Ward 4 councilor Martin Matinyanya, on Friday blocked the official ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of an Asian-funded $40 million state-of-the-art mall, saying they were not informed about the project.
Manyanya and his ruling party colleagues also said they did not want white investors in their suburb as they blocked any activities by city fathers and the could-be investors.
For more than 30 minutes, Councilor Matinyanya and the Zanu PF supporters mocked and harassed senior council officials, including Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi.
The officials had gathered for the official ground-breaking ceremony for the proposed Mupedzanhamo Upmarket 2 in Harare’s Mbare high density suburb.
They threatened to beat up Movement for Democratic Change councilors, including Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo was expected to officiate but he did not turn up.
Matinyanya threatened to assault the MDC councilors even in the minister’s presence - if he turned-up that is.
Matinyanya and his group forced Mahachi to call off the event.
Thereafter Matinyanya and the toyi-toying Zanu PF activists chased people who had gathered for the event, including officials from some three Asian countries thought to be investing in the project.
The officials could not be drawn to comment about the project or why they had been invited as the marauding Zanu PF supporters continued to threaten anyone who was not with them.
"What happened today is regrettable and unnecessary," said a distraught Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, adding his council will not be intimidated into dumping the project.
Councilor Herbert Gomba, who chairs the council’s business committee, said it was sad that some people were politicizing a project meant to create thousands of jobs in the local area.
Asked whether Matinyanya would face disciplinary action, deputy mayor Thomas Muzuva, said it was up to his Zanu PF party to deal with him.
The project, which is a joint venture between Harare City Council and Consortia International, an Asian group, is expected to provide the local community with 5,000 flea market stalls, 67 small shops, supermarkets, secure parking area, an eating area, a commercial centre with banks, office space and sports facilities.
Some economists who spoke with Studio 7 said such behavior was against the government’s agenda of creating employment and empowering citizens.
Former Ministry of Finance chief economist, Masimba Manyanya, said this should never be allowed to happen again in Zimbabwe as it discourages foreign investors.
In 2012, Zanu PF activists blocked a $5 million construction project in the same suburb, which was proposed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The project was moved to Dzivaresekwa high density suburb.
During the same year, they also blocked a $1.3 million fuel project proposed by local businessman, Alex Mashamhanda, and another $30 million scheme to upgrade Mbare Musika bus terminus.