Invest in Harare, Invest in Me

Kerwin Datu reports on the Economist African Future Cities Conference

It was a stroke of comic genius to put the self-important Mayor of Harare Muchadeyi Masunda on the stage …Masunda’s shameless hawking of the housebuilding opportunities in the Zimbabwean capital, backed up with the assertion that, because he is also the Chairman of almost every local construction and materials company that would stand to benefit from a housing boom, he is ideally placed to facilitate the entry of foreign investment into the city’s housing market.

To him goes the most insincere statement of the two days, that ‘we don’t have slums in Harare, thank God’. Indeed they don’t, but only because in 2005 (well before Masunda’s term) President Mugabe instigated the infamous Operation Murambatsvina, which oversaw the comprehensive demolition of every informal structure in the city.

And that is not awarded lightly, given Masunda’s other tilt for the prize with the gem that Harare did not deserve its position as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s world’s least liveable city because ‘four or five former ambassadors have decided to retire in Harare,’ living ‘a very comfortable life — the mansions that they occupy have a tennis court, a swimming pool — these are almost obligatory.’ Clearly a tilt for the investor crowd, not a jot of awareness of the lives of ordinary Africans.


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