Chitungwiza and Harare residents have blasted their local authorities for allowing mushrooming of Zanu PF-linked illegal settlements on wetlands, saying this was destroying the environment.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Combined Manyame and Chitungwiza Residents’ Association director Marvellous Kumalo said they had raised the issue with council, but no action was taken to protect wetlands, which have been under attack for a long time, with no remedy insight.
“Council has been promising to evict those people who have invaded a wetland adjacent to its head offices in Zengeza. We suspect that this is being allowed due to the political affiliation of the invaders as council seems reluctant to act,” Kumalo alleged.
“This is not the first time that the piece of land in question has been invaded and we realise that council has a tendency of not acting on time. As a country, we are failing to protect wetlands, largely due to political interference.”
The land in question, according to council records, was once allocated to United We Stand Housing Co-operative owned by Zanu PF activist, Fredrick Mabamba, before council withdrew it after government had directed that the wetland be protected.
Although council spokesperson Lovemore Meya said he could not comment on the matter as he was away in Bulawayo, sources at Chitungwiza council said the local authority has been failing to evict the invaders for fear of a backlash from Zanu PF.
“It is a difficult matter to deal with. Remember we have a commission run by Zanu PF members and they can’t act on these people who are party activists,” a source said. The commission running Chitungwiza is headed by former mayor and top Zanu PF official, Joseph Macheka and the district administrator.
In Harare, council has now resorted to getting a court order to evict the invaders.
“We are proceeding through an urgent chamber application to get an eviction order,” council spokesperson Michael Chideme said.
In Harare, the wetland along Bulawayo Road was among those that have been invaded by Zanu PF youths and when council attempted to evict them, it faced a legal challenge.