CASH-strapped Harare City Council (HCC) will have to fork out over $1 million to resurface roads in preparation for the wedding of President Robert Mugabe’s daughter, Bona on March 1, it has emerged.
Sources at Town House told our sister paper The Standard that Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo last week allegedly issued a directive to council to immediately start resurfacing and repairing roads that will be used by the wedding party.
The directive was allegedly given to town clerk Tendai Mahachi, who Chombo recently saved after Mayor; Bernard Manyenyeni had suspended him for three months for refusing to provide the salary schedule for town house executives.
Mahachi recently placed advertisements in the state media notifying people of the impending temporary closure of some roads, to pave way for the road works.
A senior Town House official said Chombo gave Council a deadline of two weeks to complete the road works. He said meetings have already been held to prepare for the project, with preliminary evaluations projecting that over $1 million would be spent.
“The justification being given is that several important dignitaries including foreign Heads of State will be coming, hence the need to present a good image of Harare,” said the official. He said mobilising of personnel; plant and materials to be used for the project were at an advanced stage.
The official said expectations were that by Saturday (yesterday) everything would be in place paving the way for road works to start.
Another Town House official said in order to meet the tight deadline, council employees will have to work at night and temporarily suspend other projects. Most roads in the city are riddled with potholes which now resemble craters as council is failing to provide essential services due to cash constraints.
“This is unfair on our part because council is broke and failing to repair even worse roads than those being talked about,” said the official.
He said as Bona’s wedding was most likely to resemble a state occasion, the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara), instead of council should have provided funding for the road works. The official said it was not yet clear what other expenses HCC will incur because of the city hosting the “wedding of the year.”
Roads expected to be spruced up include, Chancellor Avenue where State House is located, Seventh Street, Borrowdale Road, Carrick Creagh and Crowhill which go to Borrowdale Brooke.
Chombo was not answering his phone since Friday, while Manyenyeni yesterday expressed ignorance over the project. Mahachi referred questions to the city’s director of engineering, Phillip Pfukwa. But Pfukwa requested questions in writing, promising to get back to The Standard by tomorrow.
The directive to resurface the roads comes amid reports that Mugabe’s Borrowdale Brooke mansion is undergoing renovations and construction. Our sister publication, Newsday, last week reported that goods worth millions of dollars was ordered from South Africa to spruce up the 25-roomed mansion.
Reports say the mansion will likely host the wedding of Bona to Simba Chikore, a pilot based in the Middle East. Chikore last year completed traditional marriage formalities after paying lobola which family sources put at $35 000.
The wedding is reportedly expected to attract 5 000 guests among them several African leaders and top government officials from the region and elsewhere.