Chairs of ratepayers and residents’ associations in five wards (centering on Greendale, Borrowdale, Highlands, Avondale and Mt Pleasant) have held two meetings since March 2023 as a loosely knit collaborative group to discuss matters of mutual interest. These include the state of the roads, refuse collection, street lighting, rates payments, planning developments and noise pollution. They started by challenging the proposed Borrowdale Racecourse Plan (Number 44) put forward by the City of Harare, asking for more information about those who are promoting the plan and what their interests are. After a lack of response by the City residents’ associations are now strengthening their communication channels by:
- sharing information about by-laws and other rules, so everyone clearly understands what they are and the penalties for breaking them. Up-to-date by-laws must be in the public domain.
- sharing information about who is breaking the law, both among residents and with the City authorities
- organising to seek redress from the City, the councillors and district officers (DOs) on law-breakers
- encouraging neighbouring wards to form residents’ associations to increase coverage and share information and strategies
- encouraging residents to engage in master plans. Each committee was asked to produce a list of what they do and don’t want in their area, including billboards, lighting, noise, roads, cluster homes and garages and commercial developments in residential areas.
One current major project is to make sure that DOs will automatically allow residents to see all plans, planning consent and special consent permits as and when they come from the City Planning Department so they can publicise and object to them as they emerge, and encouraging councillors to check these permits at council meetings before signing off on them. Residents want to put a stop to unsuitable planning permission such as chicken farms in residential areas and fast-food outlets on quiet streets.
The other focuses on noise abatement. This initiative was recently taken up again by residents in the Avondale, Kensington and Mount Pleasant areas. This is a renewed attempt in many parts of the city and in low-density suburbs, including Borrowdale, Pomona, Newlands and Highlands to control the increasing number of venues flouting the law by holding all-night and all-weekend events with excessively loud music. Meetings are being held and organised throughout these areas to control these events.
Finally, the chairs of these wards said they were happy to help any neighbourhood group set up a residents and ratepayers association. All residential areas have common and overlapping interests and groups like these would help to improve these neighbourhoods in every way. If residents want further information on any of these matters contact Carole Pearce at 0777464974.
- The author Carole Pearce is the chairperson of the Ward 7 Residents and Ratepayers Association (W7RRA)