Over 1 700 signatures across Zimbabwe have been appended towards the #SaveMotoRepublik campaign in the last four days in a bid to halt demolition of Zimbabwe’s first creative hub.
The future of the hub hangs by a thread as the Harare City Council is planning on destroying the place after classifying as an unlawful and illegal structure. Demolition for the hub is set for this Thursday amid widespread criticism of the move by members of the civic society and human rights defenders.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
In a #SaveMotoRepublik update, Moto Republik said there were 1 700 people who joined them in the fight against this demolition through signing an online petition.
“In just four days, over 1 700 people have signed up to the petition to urge Minister of Local Government Saviour Kasukuwere, Harare Mayor Benard Manyenyeni and Acting Town Clerk Josephine Ncube to stop the demolition of Moto Republik, Zimbabwe’s first creative hub,: read part of the statement.
“On Monday 13 March Saviour Kasukuwere responded to the online petition that has been trending in Zimbabwe over the last week to #SaveMotoRepublik and visited the popular arts hub. The Moto Republik Management shared their position on the issue with the minister and showed him all the relevant documents for the structure approved by the city council,” said MotoRepublik.
“In his response the minister promised to intervene and find an amicable resolution with council that would not involve demolition and would allow Moto Republik to continue operating,” said Moto Republik.
Moto Republik co-founder Tongai Leslie Makawa AKA Outspoken said they continue to urge community online and offline to contact their elected officials to express concern over the planned demolition of Moto Republik.
“All we ask for is for the demolition to be stopped for the containers to remain in place and for us to be allowed to carry on with our important work of empowering young people and supporting new ideas.
“We have engaged our lawyers to resolve the matter ahead of the March 16 deadline by sending a letter of demand to the city fathers, which has been followed up this afternoon by an urgent chamber application for an interdict against the illegal demolition should the council not respond to our request to stop the demolition,” he said.
“We thank all of our supporters out there for raising their voices, taking action and standing with the positive space that is Moto Republik. Thousands of young voices cannot be ignored.”
The Creative Hub is popular with young people for its signature events such as Harare WordPress Meetup, Women’s Creative Wednesdays and the monthly Hustlers Market. The Hub came under threat when council showed up to take down the structure without warning. Council officials proceeded to use a blow torch to cut parts of the metal structure.
The demolition was only stopped when Harare Mayor Ben Manyenyenyi intervened and promised to resolve the matter within seven days. City council officials and the Mayor, surprisingly, insisted that the building was illegal despite Moto Republik management producing all the relevant documents.
The officials promised that they would be back to take the structure on Thursday 16 March if the management at Moto Republik did not do it themselves.
The structure in question is made out of re-purposed shipping containers, a popular, eco-friendly, low cost and modern trend in urban construction around the world.