A youth group with links to Zanu PF is planning a chaotic takeover of lucrative parking bays owned by Harare City Council after the local authority cancelled a controversial joint venture with a South Africa firm, Easihold. Easihold and Harare formed Easipark to control city parking, but the deal is ending in two months after the city pulled out of the two-year partnership.
Upfumi Kuvadiki, which temporarily invaded the parking bays last March, says it will promptly move to take over the spaces, even without council approval.
“We have a new company called Nehanda Holdings which will be running the towing and clamping of vehicles in the city,” Alson Darikayi, chairman told the Daily News yesterday.
“We have been telling the city council that the Easipark deal was not viable and they should incorporate the youths of the country and in March when the deal terminates, we shall be taking over,” he said.
Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi said council would “cross the bridge when we get there”.
Darikayi said his group had the backing of minister of Local Government Urban and Rural Development Ignatius Chombo.
Chombo, a Zanu PF appointee to the coalition government, has had several run-ins with local councils in the past, forcing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party to push for the amendment of the Urban Council Act that gives him vast powers to meddle in council matters.
“We have the minister’s blessings,” said Dakarayi, adding the youth group will be approaching another hawkish Zanu PF minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, in charge of the indigenisation and youth ministry.
“This is part of the empowerment that our government has been talking about and this year we shall do it. This company (Easihold) should relocate to South Africa and leave our country alone,” said Darikayi.
Threats by pro-Zanu PF groups and individuals to haphazardly take over private businesses under the indigenisation project have scared away foreign investors, with many holding out until the situation is stable.
Darikayi said his group would not seek the city’s authority, although they will meet mayor Muchadeyi Masunda “to update him of the take-over”.
Parking business has become lucrative as motorists are charged $1 an hour. Harare was supposed to get 60 percent of the profits, with Easihold pocketing the remainder under the souring deal.
But councillors say the city has not benefitted since the deal was signed hence the decision to pull out.