About 100 home seekers in Harare stand to lose their hard earned cash after a group of war veterans under the banner of Limpopo Housing Cooperative vanished after receiving cash deposits from the home seekers.
The home seekers had paid $7 000 deposit each for residential stands at the East side of Monavale Vlei which is an international site and protected wetland under the country’s Environmental Management Act.
Officials from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Harare City Council intervened following the invasion of the wetland by the war veterans.
Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere also added his voice saying that any form of development on Monavale Vlei was illegal adding that the wetland was “a no go area”.
Some of the home seekers who spoke on condition of anonymity said the war veterans, led by one Noah Kambanje vanished as soon as developments on Monavale Vlei were stopped.
“We have made several attempts to seek audience with him (Kambanje) but he has been evasive. He keeps on assuring us that the matter is being resolved by officials from high offices but we have lost trust because he is being evasive.
“We are beginning to feel that we were robbed and we are considering the legal route to recover our money,” said the source.
In early August, Kambanje said that as war veterans, they were entitled to land as they were the ones behind the independence of Zimbabwe.
He also said that their project had the blessings of the Head of State and Government; President Robert Mugabe whom he said recognized the pivotal role played by war veterans for the independence of Zimbabwe.
When contacted over the latest development, Kambanje denied that he had robbed home seekers of their cash.
He said they were in the process of looking for alternative land for the home seekers.
“It is not true that we vanished with home seekers’ money. What we are doing at the moment is that we are looking for alternative land to compensate all those who had paid their deposits for housing stands at Monavale.
“We have identified some place along Masvingo road and we will be allocating the residential stands as soon as all the necessary paperwork is completed,” said Kambanje.
He said that they had been given assurance “by authorities from above” that the Monavale issue would be resolved to pave way for residential developments.
Wetlands are the major primary sources of water for Harare and there has been concern from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) that the destruction of these important sources of water was worsening water scarcity in Harare.
In light of the threats to wetlands’ survival, the Harare Wetlands Trust has launched an intensive campaign aimed at mobilizing community involvement in the preservation of wetlands.
Major threats to the survival of wetlands have largely been developments for housing and industrial purposes with most of these developments taking place without paying due regard to the need to preserve the wetlands.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on the protection of wetlands and the country has seven internationally recognized sites which include Monavale Vlei.