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Furore over wetlands crisis

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BY VANESSA GONYE

AN increase in allocation of stands in illegal and undesignated areas is being caused lack of cohesion by the responsible authorities, Harare Wetlands Trust programmes manager Selestino Chari has alleged.

Speaking at a meeting that included the Harare City Council and the Environmental Management Authority (Ema), among other stakeholders, Chari said there was a need for co-ordination between different bodies to tackle illegal construction on wetlands.

“From the outcomes of the meeting, it’s clear that there is lack of consultation and cohesion between Ema and stakeholders. I think there is really need for Ema to start engaging the residents in earnest so that they can contribute to the process,” he said.

Chari said Ema should avail correct information that can be understood by the community.

“As you can see, it’s very difficult for people to interpret the maps. There is need for Ema to come up with simple things that can be understood by stakeholders. I even recommend that it should be issued in vernacular languages so that everyone understands,” he said.

Chari said the City of Harare was not even aware of certain areas that have been given environmental impact assessment certificates, while Ema could also blame the City of Harare for allocating wetlands for construction.

He said government departments should also work with Ema and City of Harare.

Harare provincial co-ordinator Tafadzwa Muguti blamed council for the wetlands crisis, saying the local authority lacked seriousness.

“It is important that Harare City Council takes environmental issues seriously. It must identify land barons selling stands on wetlands so that we can be able to act to protect our wetlands,” he said.

  • Follow Vanessa on Twitter @vanessa_gonye

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