Councilor blames politics, corruption for wetlands destruction

Harare Councilor for Ward 33, Sydney Chirombe has blamed politics and corruption for the continued illegal land allocations in Harare.

Councilor Chirombe was speaking during an interview on the sidelines of a community meeting hosted by the Harare Wetland Trust in Harare’s Budiriro High density suburb on Tuesday.

The community engagement meeting was part of efforts by the Trust to mobilize communities towards the preservation of wetlands in their area.

The Trust is encouraging residents to be part of Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPs) which are local plans that local authorities develop for the management of the environment.

Section 95 of the Environmental Management Act mandates local authorities to develop the action plans on environmental management.

Said Councilor Chirombe: “In my ward, we have witnessed a high number of land grabs and all this is as a result of land grabs as well as corruption. As a result, we have houses being built on wetlands in direct contravention of the law.”

He said efforts to stop land barons were being hampered “by the fact that most of these land barons seem to have protection hence their continued defiance of the law”.

Councilor Chirombe added that it was necessary to ensure effective implementation of the law in order to stop land barons and ensure the preservation of wetlands.

“Community involvement in the preservation of wetlands is very much necessary but it is quite critical to ensure that the law is fully implemented if we are to put a stop to land grabs. I would like to emphasize that efforts to preserve wetlands can only bear the desired fruit if the law is respected and fully implemented without fear or favour,” said Chirombe.

Of late, wetlands in Harare have been under threat from land grabs for housing and industrial projects that are often implemented without paying regard to the need to preserve the important sources of water.

Recently, council demolished illegal structures that had been set up at Monavale Vlei which is a protected area and an international site.

The wetland is among seven internationally recognized wetlands under the Ramsar Convention on the protection of wetlands to which Zimbabwe is signatory.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has also called upon responsible authorities to ensure the law is fully implemented in a bid to save wetlands from destruction.

According to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) wetlands destruction is increasing water scarcity in Harare.

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