By Michelle J Muchina
“Sunshine City” used to be an adjective for a city that was clean, smart and organised, capturing the brilliance of Harare’s anticipated future as a beacon among Africa’s normally drab cities.
Fast forward a few decades along the line and the City has become a dreary and dirty shell of its former glory and hope with survivors of past years speaking nostalgically about how the City has lost both its shine and promise.
Allan Makedenga, born in 1957, has no doubts of what the main issue with Harare is.
“Harare was the Sunshine City for sure, we used to call it a royal diadem, a jewel of Africa and it was second only to cities in South Africa which have been always ahead of us but now nothing makes sense at all.
“There is no maintenance, you step on sewage almost everywhere and the street lights that used to brighten our city most of them are no longer working which is a cause for concern for our once known beautiful city”
Allan Makedenga, however, does not blame the Council.
“When the fish rots it starts from the head”, he said euphemistically, pointing an accusatory finger at central government.
For many who have lived and grew up in the old Harare, the present is a faded and forged copy of a city that used to be full of bright lights, clean running water, wide orderly roads and efficient service delivery.
That is as early as the ’90s.
Albert Kwindidza of Epworth, born in 1968, said that Harare has severely fallen by the wayside on the list of beautiful cities.
“Harare was so organised my child, bins were collected in time for every location, no one used a bin that did not belong to Council and they used to replace bins each time but now I do not even remember the last time I saw a rubbish truck in the streets of Epworth”, he said.
Post-2000 the name Sunshine City has become a tragic euphemism for an antithesis.
Nothing is running well in the Capital City, either literally or figuratively.
There is no water, no electricity, garbage is everywhere, and sewerage the same and the responsible City authorities are listing myriad problems negatively laying the stage for the future.
The name Sunshine City used to signify a dreamy city that attracted all those visiting from the rural areas but has since expired out to remain a name only but practically the same as the rural areas.
Josiah Moyo (45 ) of Chitungwiza remembers visiting Harare from his rural area of Masvingo.
“Going to Harare from the rural areas used to be a big deal, there was running and clean water, and we’d rest from going to the well but now it’s the same”.
“There was no vending in town and there was none of all this congestion at all”, he added
Gogo Kudzaira of Dzivaresekwa, one of Harare’s high-density areas, said that “Harare was always blooming. Harare Gardens and Africa Unity Square used to have beautiful scenery, ponds, fresh and clean lawns”.
“There was security from the Council to make sure that the gardens are clean, public toilets were well and functioning and they were odourless.”
“But now most them are no longer being cleaned and are usually locked from the public”.
“The City of Harare used to employ people who cleaned in town and some streets but today it’s erratic”, she said.
The resultant effect of all these changes has been a slow and gradual deterioration of standards across the city.
Most of the public toilets are stuffy and clogged with unflushed human excrement whilst people have resorted to urinating outside the toilets.
For those who lived in a past era the change has been a great shock but for those born well after the country was on a negative trajectory its business as usual.
Whatever Harare used to be and promised, is now a faded dream as today it’s a washed apparition of glamour.