HARARE Metropolitan province has embarked on a 45-day operation to demolish illegal structures on wetlands in and around the capital.
The exercise, codenamed Operation Zero Tolerance to Environmental Crimes, will be carried out concurrently in Harare, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Epworth with the assistance of the police.
The campaign began yesterday and is expected to run until December 15.
Provincial secretary Tafadzwa Muguti (pictured) said: “We are aware that our councils are actively involved in the parcelling out of land in wetlands. All housing developments in wetlands shall be stopped, with all cases of purchase or award of such land being reported to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.”
Muguti added: “This provincial blitz will target institutions, shop owners, companies, vendors, public transporters, the actual passengers and the general citizenry who violate statutory requirements.”
In a notice, Chitungwiza acting town clerk Evangelista Machona said the municipality had been asked to provide 80 municipal police officers for the exercise.
“The operation is a response to the concerns raised by the Presidium over increased environmental crimes in Harare province. The operation is specifically focusing on four environmental issues, namely solid waste management, invasion of wetlands, illegal sand abstraction and illegal brick-moulding and emissions,” Machona said.
“Each local authority will be expected to provide both material and human resources towards the operation. Chitungwiza was asked to contribute 80 municipal police, 10 tipper trucks, three front-end loaders, five compactors, fuel, lunch and refreshments for all personnel participating in the operation,”
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But residents condemned the demolition exercise as a waste of resources.
“It has become a norm to threaten residents with demolitions against several High Court orders which have not been appealed against. The operation is not sustainable and it leaves Chitungwiza Municipality on its knees,” Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association secretary Brighton Mazhindu said.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said: “These are unfruitful interventions targeting mainly the informal sector. Using force to enforce the law will never produce sustainable results.”
Former Chitungwiza mayor Lovemore Maiko said the operation was meant to leave the council grounded.
“How many thousands of United States dollars are going to be used? Why would they want to demolish people’s houses during the rainy season?” he asked.