Clive Malunga

We cannot build by destroying.

Our country will not develop at the desired pace if organisations that are supposed to facilitate development, become major obstacles to the same in their areas of jurisdiction due to corrupt activities by officials. The damaging effects of corruption are most visible at local authorities’ level because of councils’ proximity to the grassroots.  Abuse of power by council officials usually prevents poor people from accessing key economic resources such as market stalls, residential stands and commercial stands. Archaic antidevelopment by-laws are often cited to support inhuman actions such as destruction of well-built -houses   and destruction of livelihoods. This is my story about how City of Harare has been working against my projects, including Jenaguru Arts Centre.

I was demobilised from the army in 1983. My last station of duty was 1-9 Infantry Battalion in Ntabazinduna, Bulawayo which was under the command of Brigadier General Charles Gumbo. I applied to the Demobilisation Directorate to have all my terminal benefits at once because I had decided to build a house.  My application was successful and I was paid a lump sum of $4 480 which I used to acquire a stand and build a cottage in Warren Park 1. I was among the first people to reside in Warren Park.  I managed to complete the construction of the cottage with the demobilisation money.  

After staying at my stand in Warren Park for many years, I received a letter from Harare City Council demanding that I should build the main house in two years or City of Harare would repossess the stand. They argued that it was the building of the main house (not a cottage) which was a requirement. I started scouting around Harare where I could find alternative accommodation. Sadly, and inexplicably, I later learnt that it was only me who was pushed to vacate my Warren Park stand. My neighbours are still in Warren Park, a number of them still struggling to complete their houses. I still cannot fathom out any reason why I could be targeted.

I sold my Warren Park cottage and used the money to buy a completed two-roomed house in Western Triangle, Highfield.  I bought the house from Mr. Didimusa, a plumber at City of Harare, who was going back to Malawi, his country of origin.  We went together with Mr. Didimusa to City of Harare offices in Highfield to sign an agreement of sale. After signing the agreement and paying him in full, Mr. Didimusa gave me the title deeds of the house. The title deeds were in the name of the City of Harare and an official who attended the transaction advised me to fill in the housing waiting list forms so that it would be easy to change names on the City title deeds in the future.

By then City of Harare had started giving complete ownership of their houses to all tenants in Western Triangle. To pass ownership to the tenants, title deeds in the names of tenants had to be given. The title deeds were being processed in batches. I stayed in Highfield for a long time waiting for my turn to have title deeds in my name. Instead, when my turn to get title deeds finally came, City of Harare sent me a letter advising me to vacate the house within two months or they would come and throw me and all my belongings out.

Months after leaving the house my former neighbours informed me that I was kicked out to make way for Ambuya Madhuve to occupy the house because she was the witchdoctor of Western Triangle’s ward councilor. The loss of the house greatly pained me because it meant that my demobilisation money had been lost for nothing. Many people advised me to take the matter of the Western Triangle house to court but I didn’t.  I shared all my property between my father and my younger sister because I did not want to go back to my father’s house in Norton. I had to start afresh.

I had a friend, Mrs. Tomoko Takahashi, who was working at the Embassy of Japan at that time. When I approached her for assistance, she rented a fully furnished cottage for me in Eastlea Suburb.  This was the genesis of long-term friendship which played a crucial role in the establishment of Jenaguru Arts Centre.

Jenaguru has become an incubation centre for many musical talents. For example, Cde Energy Mutodi started his music career at Jenaguru Arts Centre. A few years after I left my Western Triangle home, I met Ambuya Madhuve’s son, Zelusile, at Jenaguru Arts Centre. Zelusile used to play congas for Real Sounds of Africa. By then I had purchased another house from the late Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lt. General S.B. Moyo. I invited Ambuya Madhuve ‘s son for a two-months tour of Japan.

The house in Western Triangle was gutted by fire which destroyed a lot of property including Zelusile ‘s particulars. I had to assist him to get new particulars including a passport.  I went with Zelusile to Japan as a drummer (percussionist). The tour was very successful. When we came back home I told Zelusile that the Western Triangle house was theirs and I held no grudge anymore. I have been working with Zelusile as a session musician up to now.

As if the pain they caused me with those two aforementioned incidents was not enough, City of Harare recently demolished buildings built by Jenaguru Arts over a period spanning over two decades. We have lost not only the structures but also the space where kids can come and rehearse for local and international performances.

 I worked with City of Harare from 1992 to 2005 during the Jenaguru Festivals where 25% of the gate takings went to City of Harare.  I contributed very much to their coffers. I wonder why they are treating me like this!