Residents of Tafara high density suburb in Harare are at loggerheads with the Harare City Council after the former approved construction on a wetland which had been identified by the Local Environment Action Plan (LEAP) committee in the area.
A LEAP is a local plan developed for the management of the environment. LEAPs work with authorities from city councils and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) who are in turn supposed to consult the residents before authorizing construction on wetlands.
The wetland that has been earmarked for housing developments in Tafara is located between Tafara and Mabvuku high density suburbs.
Chairperson of the Tafara LEAP Committee, Ephraim Mutami said, “We have tried to engage the council over this disturbing issue but they are failing to listen to us as we are being moved from one office to another. Our concern is that there is so much destruction of wetlands in our are especially due to housing developments and we are afraid that very soon, these water sources will be completely destroyed if we do not take action to preserve them as a community.
“We are considering taking the legal route as well.”
Investigations revealed that authorities at the Tafara district offices were also swindling desperate home seekers intending to buy residential stands at the wetland.
A council employee indentified as Sithole is said to be misrepresenting to residents that he had bought the land from Harare City Council.
Efforts to contact Sithole were fruitless but Harare City Council Spokesperson, Michael Chideme warned residents against bogus individuals purporting to be representing council.
Chideme confirmed that council had approved the housing stands on the area.
Said Chideme, ”Yes there are residential stands that have been approved by council on that area. We however urge residents who would like to buy those residential stands to approach council otherwise they will lose their hard earned cash to bogus individuals. Residents are urged to follow the proper procedure.”
The residents of Tafara are irked by the fact that council failed to consult them “before approving developments on a protected wetland”.
Besides runoff, wetlands are the major sources of water for Harare but they have been under constant threat due to a variety of factors which include agriculture and construction.
Moved by the continuous threat to wetlands in Harare, the Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) has since launched a campaign aimed at ensuring community involvement in the protection of wetlands which are important sources of water.
In Zimbabwe, wetlands are protected under the country’s Environmental Management Act and Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on the protection of wetlands.