BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A SPECIAL committee set up by the Harare City Council to investigate illegal commercial land sales and leases has recommended that all structures built on wetlands be demolished with immediate effect.
The special committee involving councillors Charles Nyatsuro, Lovemore Makuwerere, Keith Charumbira and external members Mfundo Mlilo, Marvellous Khumalo and Wilson Box discovered that there are 32 areas designated as wetlands that are being developed illegally.
According to the report, the director of works Isiah Chawatama indicated that there has been no single activity or initiative in the last three years to protect wetlands in the city.
The report revealed that council depended on Environmental Impact Assessments done by property developers and development certificates issued by Environmental Management Agency, which needs thorough investigations.
It also identified unregulated developments such as squatter camps, urban agriculture and abstraction of water from wetlands.
The committee, however, recommended that all developments on wetlands be demolished and declare Harare a wetland city.
“All developments on wetlands must be demolished; all contracts and permits on wetlands must be cancelled or renegotiated. The city must stop commercial abstraction of water from wetlands as this affects the normal functioning of wetlands,” reads the report.
“The city must immediately develop its own map and undertake a comprehensive scientific process to identify its wetlands. This must be coupled with public consultations on the guidelines to protect wetlands.”
Areas such as Kuwadzana, Glen Norah, Waterfalls, Warren Park, Borrowdale, Belvedere, Budiriro, Msasa, Ruwa and Mabelreign have many housing developments on marshlands.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the 1971 Ransar Convention on Wetlands. This gives the country an obligation to conserve wetlands that act as sponges that store water and act as flood controllers and carbon sinks that purify and supply water to water sources such as streams and dams.