Harare blasted over wetlands

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HARARE City Council has come under fire from environmental activists over allegations it allocated housing stands to workers in lieu of salaries on wetlands in Mabvuku and Tafara.

Two months ago, council announced plans to offer 3 470 housing stands to its employees to cover salary arrears dating back to 2017, and the local authority intends to issue 1 832 stands in Mabvuku, 342 stands in Tafara and 1 000 stands in Eyestone.

However, environment activists under the banner of Cleveland Action Alliance intend to block the allocations they claim to be on wetlands, adding that the destruction of wetlands due to construction is worsening the water crisis in the capital.

Cleveland Action Alliance chairperson Jimmy Mahachi said they were considering the litigation route in light of the threat to wetlands in Mabvuku, Tafara and Eyestone, while Harare residents engaged council over the issue.

“We write to the City of Harare with great concern regarding the proposed allocation of 3 470 stands in Mabvuku, Tafara and Eyestone. On the ground, Shelter Zimbabwe and Star Shine Housing Cooperatives are advertising that stands are available and ready for sale,” residents said in a letter.

“Allocation of stands on the wetlands will result in a further shortage of water for residents of Mabvuku and Tafara and the greater Harare residents as the main water source will have been destroyed while residents in Tafara and Mabvuku have gone for 30 years without receiving water.”

Contacted for comment, Harare spokesperson Michael Chideme said the allocated pieces of land are not on wetlands adding they are properly designated housing development areas.

“Those pieces of land are not wetlands, check the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) map on designated wetlands in Harare, and in terms of securing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate, everything is above board,” he said.

Interestingly, the Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) claims to have engaged EMA over the issue and that the provincial manager said that no EIA certificate had been issued with regards to the Mabvuku and Tafara stands as no application had been made with the agency.

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