Efforts to educate residents about city by-laws

02 Jun, 2023 - 00:06 0 Views
Efforts to educate residents about city by-laws The clamping and towing away of vehicles for parking offences recently torched heated debate among Harare motorists.


Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter

A consortium of residents’ association from Harare’s northern suburbs says it is stepping up efforts to educate residents about the City of Harare’ s obligations, jurisdiction and by-laws.

Residents’ associations in five wards in Greendale, Borrowdale, Highlands, Avondale and Mt Pleasant make up the consortium.

The initiative followed the realisation that many residents where failing to take council to task because they do not know the local authority’s mandate and also many ratepayers are found wanting when they don’t even know that they would have violated city by-laws. 

The exercise will help educate residents so that they are aware of their rights and also not do anything which will affect their neighbours in the communities they reside.

In an interview, Borrowdale Ratepayers and Residents Association chairperson Mr Robert Mutyasira, whose body is involved in the efforts, said the consortium has embarked on a drive to educate and inform residents about the dos and don’ts of the municipal jurisdiction they fall under.

The consortium is considering making use of diverse platforms including having a weekly column in local print and electronic newspapers as well as social media platforms.

Mr Mutyasira said the awareness will assist residents to know their parameters as they will be given ample knowledge on how to interpret and understand the by-laws and regulations that guide the operations of local authorities. 

“All too often residents find themselves in defiance of the law or short changed in the event of such by-laws not being implemented effectively. One such by-law would be that of poultry rearing in residential areas. Residents assume that as long as they have a bit of space in their garden, they can keep as many chickens as the space allows. City by-laws specify on the permissible number of chickens that can be reared within a certain space in residential areas. If the enterprising residents are not aware of such regulations, they may passively affect and annoy their neighbours. If the neighbours are not informed of their rights they will endure awkward situations characterised by heavy stenches, noise and disease transferring insects among other issues that may have serious effects on their health,” he said.

The BRRA chairperson said that the consortium believes that knowledge is power and it is the responsibility of residents’ associations to ensure residents at least know the effects and consequences of certain actions they take or do not take as the City of Harare has failed to educate residents.

“Local authorities have not taken time to educate the public on these matters and residents only find themselves in trouble when they are caught on the wrong side of the law faced with punitive penalties. For instance, if you allow waste to gather in the immediate vicinity of your premises, Harare City by-laws hold you accountable for that waste whether you put it there or not. There are so many of these regulations kept in obscurity only to be pulled out as and when they become necessary to implement. Residents breach the law in their ignorance and the adage ‘ignorance of the law is not an excuse’ applies. At times people are taken to the courts of law over avoidable matters which should not be the case if they were sensitised to the tenets of such laws,” he said.

Mr Mutyasira said it is also important for residents to note that before considering acquiring a property in a certain area one needs to be aware of the existing town planning and rights issues around that area. 

“One may build a dream house and a year later an entertainment area is established next door. If the rights of such activity were acquired prior to your purchase of the property, you may face challenges raising complaints against the noise and other nuisances emanating from the neighbour’s premises. We feel it is important for our residents to be aware of legal fine print.  Informed residents have more control over their welfare and we continue in our bid to raise a robust constituency of residents who are in charge of their affairs and also compliant to the rules and regulations that guide their relationship with (local) authorities,” said Mr Mutyasira.

Residents pushing the initiative said they hope that the City of Harare will also take an interest in the idea and work closely with residents’ associations for the best outcome.

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