The City of Harare (CoH) is set to increase the number of recreational parks in Harare suburbs, according to Godfrey Munetsi, Curator of Parks and Cemeteries. He said that the department is currently developing the Kuwadzana Park, while additional parks are going to be created in Mbare, Sunningdale, and Eastlea. “Parks have intrinsic values for people in Harare,” said Munetsi. He added, “Through garden parks, we want to provide open spaces for the benefit of townspeople and local residents within areas that have been rapidly built up. We want to develop the concept of ‘the designed landscape’ as a setting for the suburban domicile, an idea pioneered by the early city planners. The city is also looking at developing themes such forest parks and educational parks, where students can come to study and access internet services.”
He said that besides the introduction of new parks, the city is also looking at rehabilitating existing parks that have been poorly maintained. Some parks, like Ballantyne Park, are being given over to community groups to look after. CoH has rehabilitated the Swanlake Park in Avonlea, in collaboration with Imagine Avonlea. CoH have put in benches and plan to dredge the dam and fence the park.
Harare currently has 34 parks, owned and maintained by the local authority. The parks range from savannas or open woodlands to areas with exotic plants.
Harare Gardens used to be one of the city’s most attractive landmarks, though has fallen into neglect in recent years. This 65 hectare area of gardens houses a splendid pavilion, the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe, a bird sanctuary, swimming pool and rock garden. City workers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of town hope that this area can be rejuvenated – especially areas such as the water feature which is mostly filled with rubbish.
Cleveland Dam, another City Council park, is on the outskirts of Harare on the Mutare Road. It is a pleasant place for a walk or a picnic, especially during the week when it is quieter. It is possible to walk along the edge of the very pretty dam and also rent paddle boats. There is also a large woodland area to explore. Entrance is only a dollar or two (if the gate guard is on duty). Perhaps more worthwhile, although more expensive, is the adjoining Haka Game Park which has a real African plains feel to it with plenty of wildebeest, zebra, kudu and impala and more chance to get away from it all due to the large area it covers.
Photo: Glenroy Park in Highlands is in dire need of maintenance, and has been for years.