I went into Harare on 6 January to assist Maritime with the ZimboGreen clean up in CBD. Wires were crossed, and it turns out I was supposed to be on First Street, but I understood Copacabana bus terminus, and that is where I started and did my bit! I was really there to observe, and ask questions, so this is what I saw and discovered.

The first thing I looked for was CoH cleaners, as they should know where the clean up was. I started taking pictures. And I found them everywhere, cleaning! And cleaning well. Everything in a block swept into piles, and then the piles were put into bins on carts. All this amidst serious traffic pulling off the road wherever. Clean down to the tar. The workers were working. Perhaps CoH has too many in offices, and not enough on the streets? Perhaps there are too many wearing ties and sitting down and not enough standing up and getting their hands dirty? There is dignity in work and we salute the workers.

Then I saw a man, vending (looked like telephone accessories), who finished his drink and threw his PET bottle on the ground to try and sell to a potential customer. There was a waste bin (empty, 210 litre drum size) within five meters. I picked it up and threw it in the bin and talked to another vendor in the group. A 37 year old man from Mabvuku. He agreed, the other guy was slack, we are all responsible for the marara, and the other guy was not doing his duty. However, CoH was supposed to clean up the litter. “How was CoH to pay for them?” (There was someone cleaning marara right in front of us, on the Town House lawn.) No, he was not a licensed vendor. He did not need to buy a license, people owning buildings must pay rates, and those must pay for street sweepers. After all, vending was not really a job, it was something they did, they had to do, because they could not find jobs. The government (no idea of the difference between local or national government) must provide proper roads, industry, and money from the banks.

I walked on, took more pictures and asked more questions. I went into a building, a shop, where take away chicken and sadza was being made and sold. Three employees, who lived in Chitungwiza. They did not know anything about garbage. There was a skip bin down the street, they put all their garbage in there, and it was taken away. They did not know by whom. They did not know where it went. Sustainable? No, they did not know what the word meant. It was simply outside their concept
of understanding.

I spoke to a woman, standing in front of an EMA sign, who turned out to be a visitor from Rusape. What did she think of the city? “It was not dirty, and not clean.”

A man, 44, from Mount Darwin but living in Epworth, was selling photography. He was very talkative. (And another man kept butting in. He was mentally disturbed!) He calls it litter, or rubbish. People just throw it because they are ignorant. Not lazy, just ignorant. They, the individuals, are not responsible. The vendors cause litter, and they are there because of poverty. The CoH must take the litter away, but he did not know where to. He did not know the dump was full. The burning he had heard of. Sustainable? That was about the well being of people. However, if industry made pollution, that was unfortunate, but the people needed jobs more than they needed clean air to breath. Sustainability was mainly the talk of people who say yes but do nothing. Talk is cheap.

Above all, the stuff was garbage. Rubbish. Marara. Litter. Waste. It was not seen, by anyone, as a resource, that might has some value. If it was, then someone (no one cared, government or private sector) must make a job of it and remove unemployment. And this is what Maritime does.

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