Harare City Council is losing an estimated US$250 000 per day to space barons who have hijacked and taken over a variety of council buildings and spaces which they are renting out to vendors and traders.
A statement by the Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Tafadzwa Muguti said a Provincial Taskforce will be unleashed on the criminals in two weeks’ time to deal with the matter.
“For some time now there has been a public outcry on the continued hijacking of council markets by criminals abusing political parties affiliation and name-dropping.
“We estimate that in excess of USD250 000 a day is being collected from desperate vendors and traders by these criminal syndicates commonly referred to as space barons.
Places cited by Muguti were the illegal practice, is rife include Mupedzanhamo, Jambanja in Chitungwiza, Coca-Cola Market, Glen View Home Industries, Urban Renewal Project Land in Mbare and various other open spaces.
To deal with the criminals Muguti said a Taskforce will be created in two weeks’ time.
The Taskforce comprises of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, NSSA, Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), City of Harare, Chitungwiza Municipality, Ruwa Local Board, Epworth Local Board and the Provincial Medical Directorate.
“Non-compliant businesses are encouraged to regularise their operations within the next 14 days in order to avoid being shut down, fined and prosecuted were such applies,” he said.
Most space barons in the capital are linked to the ruling ZANU PF who use those connections to take over spaces illegally.
Others are connected to council officials and also use inside connections to gain control of the spaces.