Ximex Mall: Warts and all

The Sunday Mail

Garikai Mazara

Online News Editor

Ximex Mall, or whatever remains of it, sits some 200 metres away from Town House, which, colloquially speaking, is just a spitting distance away.

The traffic jungle along Angwa Street, between Jason Moyo Avenue and Nkwame Nkrumah Street, becomes unbearable from 3pm on any weekday (Pictures by Believe Nyakudjara

As Harare’s executive mayor sits down in his mayoral office, about to sip coffee mid-morning on any given working day, chances are the stench coming from Ximex Mall reaches his nostrils much earlier than the aroma from his coffee mug.

And if he would bother taking the 200-metre stroll from Town House to the famous, or infamous, “mall”, which is now the bedrock of all illicit deals in the city, chances are he will be accosted by the milling yobbos, enticing him to sell them his phone. Or phones.

There is no rule of law when it comes to parking and driving in and around Ximex Mall, with motorists often choosing to “triple park”

But they won’t have the courtesy of asking for a transaction after hours, they would simply snatch it from him.

Or they will brazenly ask him if they may sell him some foreign currency. Or a car. Or drugs, either medicinal or high-octane. Or whiskey.

From eggs, drugs, whiskey, phones, laptops to cars . . . an assortment of goods are available for sale at Ximex Mall

That is how the city has conspired to change Ximex Mall, then an assortment of shops, offices, eateries and hair salons, into a semi-occupied parking lot, inadvertently becoming a hub of vice and crime.

The vice and crime aside, it is must be the stench around the perimeter of Ximex that should be appalling, a stench so deep in the middle of the Sunshine City.

A stench so nauseating that any “sane” nostril-ed pedestrian avoids walking the perimeter of Ximex Mall. A stench so strong it should be little wonder that it can waft into the mayoral chambers, 200 metres away.

A few metres away from Ximex Mall, and even in front of the First Street police post, these men take beer in the middle of Harare and in broad daylight

And what is even more disturbing is that whilst the city has somehow managed to tame the traffic jungle in other parts of the city, through clamping and law enforcement, parking around Ximex Mall, is dog-eat-dog.

In fact, on the stretch of Angwa Street running from Jason Moyo Avenue up to Nkwame Nkrumah, or the other side, from Nelson Mandela Avenue, along Innez Terrace, up to Jason Moyo Avenue, the roads are barely passable.

Navigating the said stretches of roads, especially from mid-day on wards, drains even the most emotionally stable of drivers. The stretch becomes impassable when the majority of workers knock off.

Harare Traffic officials move around Ximex Mall, without batting any eyelid on the traffic chaos surrounding them

But an eagle-eyed bystander or passer-by, will easily notice that parking stewards, ever so attentive to any parking car elsewhere in the city, will pay no notice of what takes place in and around Ximex Mall.

Matter-of-factly, no-one pays for parking around the mall, milking the city of much-needed revenue. In short, the area is an independent “republic” within the confines of the city.

Whereas the selling of whiskey – and an assortment of beers – from car boots is openly done after hours on weekdays, it becomes full throttle on weekends, mostly Saturdays.

Angwa Street becomes impassable from mid-afternoon on any weekday and comes to a standstill during rush hour

This probably explains the strong wafts of urine in and around the former mall, as the imbibers, probably after a couple of tots, somehow see “male toilet” engraved on the walls of the parking lot.

What is even more surprising is that whilst the myriad of “traders” in and around Ximex Mall find time to buy drinks and eats from supermarkets that surround the former mall, they seem not to have enough time on their hands to walk the short distance to the public convenience place, corner First Street and Jason Moyo, deciding to relieve themselves on the Ximex walls.

Michael Chideme, the corporate communications manager for Harare City Council, in a thinly worded statement, which somehow betrays the city’s attitude towards Ximex Mall, said: “Enforcement has been deployed to police the area. Council is talking to (the) property owner to construct a proper structure and to secure the area like what happens with similar developments”.

He had been asked what the City of Harare is doing to curb the urinating, car selling, double parking, beer selling and many other vices that happen in and around Ximex Mall. In short, what the city is doing to bring normalcy and order to the mall.

But his terse response either portrays city fathers that have long given up on Ximex Mall or city fathers who care less what happens there.

The Harare City Council says everything is normal around Ximex Mall and has, in fact, asked Nssa, the proprietors of the parking lot, to regularise their property

Or could the assertion be true, that the young boys and grown men that have turned Ximex into their “offices” are mere runners for powerful politicians and businesspeople in the city?

If they are not runners, or frontmen, why are they seemingly untouchable?

On the other hand, the National Social Security Authority, the owners of the parking lot, which was the former mall, through its spokesperson Tendai Mutseyekwa, said they have no law enforcement powers to control what is happening around their property.

“Is the vice happening within our property? If it is happening around our property, we don’t have any jurisdiction or enforcement powers,” Mutseyekwa said.