BY ELINERA MANYONGA
GOVERNMENT has threatened to demolish houses which are being built on land that is encroaching onto the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare while a church constructed near a major water reservoir is set to be razed.
Speaking during a tour of several wetlands in Belvedere, Warren Park, Kambuzuma and Mabelreign, Harare Metropolitan Affairs minister Oliver Chidawu said it was illegal to construct houses on land belonging to the National Heroes’ Acre.
“This is insanity, how can one build a house overlapping into the national shrine? Properties like this might not even have clearance papers from the Environmental Management Agency or the council.
I will take proper action on this and if necessary demolish these houses,” he said.
Chidawu said the mushrooming of properties on wetlands was disastrous to the ecosystem and
threatened to destroy such developments.
He hinted that the responsible authorities might soon demolish a Methodist Church which was
“illegally” built next to the Warren Park water control station.
“The open space next to the Warren Park control station was never to be constructed on and having a church here is a ticking bomb,” Chidawu said.
“If a water pump bursts there will be floods here and we might end up losing lives. I will enquire if these people had clearance to build a church here and if they did then someone in office failed to do their job and will have questions to answer,” he said.
Chidawu said together with EMA, council and law enforcement agencies would make sure that the beneficiaries of early urban settlements are protected from environmental disasters and greedy land barons taking advantage of desperate residents.
He further said there were 30 wetlands under threat from illegal land barons and farmers.
Robson Mavondo, the provincial manager for EMA said the agency would work with Chidawu’s office to protect the ecosystem.