Harare Travel Guide

History

Colonial period (1890–1979)

The Pioneer Column, a military volunteer force of settlers organised by Cecil Rhodes, founded the city on 12 September 1890 as a fort. They originally named the city Fort Salisbury after the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, then British prime minister, and it subsequently became known simply as Salisbury. The Salisbury Polo Club was formed in 1896. It was declared to be a municipality in 1897 and it became a city in 1935.

The area at the time of founding of the city was poorly drained and earliest development was on sloping ground along the left bank of a stream that is now the course of a trunk road (Julius Nyerere Way). The first area to be fully drained was near the head of the stream and was named Causeway as a result. This area is now the site of many of the most important government buildings, including the Senate House and the Office of the Prime Minister, now renamed for the use of President Mugabe after the position was abolished in January 1988.

Salisbury was the capital of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963. After that point, it was the capital of Southern Rhodesia. The government of Ian Smith declared Rhodesia independent from the United Kingdom on November 11, 1965, and proclaimed the Republic of Rhodesia in 1970. Subsequently, the nation became the short-lived state of Zimbabwe Rhodesia; it was not until April 18, 1980, that the country was internationally recognized as independent as the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Post-independence (1980–1998)

The capital city retained the name Salisbury until 1982.

The name of the city was changed to Harare on April 18, 1982, the second anniversary of Zimbabwean independence, taking its name from the village near Harare Kopje of the Shona chief Neharawa, whose nickname was "he who does not sleep". Prior to independence, "Harare" was the name of the Black residential area now known as Mbare.

Economic difficulties and hyperinflation (1999–2008)

In the early 21st century Harare has been adversely affected by the political and economic crisis that is currently plaguing Zimbabwe, after the contested 2002 presidential election and 2005 parliamentary elections. The elected council was replaced by a government-appointed commission for alleged inefficiency, but essential services such as rubbish collection and street repairs have rapidly worsened, and are now virtually non-existent. In May 2006 the Zimbabwean newspaper the Financial Gazette, described the city in an editorial as a "sunshine city-turned-sewage farm". In 2009, Harare was voted to be the toughest city to live in according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's livability poll.

Operation Murambatsvina

In May 2005 the Zimbabwean government demolished shanties and backyard cottages in Harare and the other cities in the country in Operation Murambatsvina ("Drive Out Trash"). This caused a sharp reaction in the international community because it took place without prior warning and no advance plans were made to provide alternative housing. It was widely alleged that the true purpose of the campaign was to punish the urban poor for supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and to reduce the likelihood of mass action against the government by driving people out of the cities. The government claimed it was necessitated by a rise of criminality and disease. This was followed by Operation Garikayi/Hlalani Kuhle (Operation "Better Living") a year later which consisted of building concrete housing.

2009–present

In late March 2010, Harare's Joina City Tower was finally opened after 14 years of on-off construction, marketed as Harare's new Pride. Initially, uptake of space in the tower was low, with office occupancy at only 3% in October 2011. By May 2013, office occupancy had risen to around half, with all the retail space occupied.

The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Harare as the world's least livable city out of 140 surveyed in February 2011, rising to 137th out of 140 in August 2012.

Future Plans

During late 2012, plans to build a new capital district in Mt. Hampden, about twenty kilometers north-west of Harare's central business district, were announced and illustrations shown in Harare's daily newspapers. The location of this new district would imply an expansion into Zvimba District. The plan generated varied opinions.

source: Wikipedia

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