Authorities Criticized For PermittingWetlands Inversion

City Council and Environmental Management Agency are under fire for allowing invasion of wetlands in the old suburbs of Mabvuku Tafara amid reports that residents are grappling with water shortages a predicament which has seen all the natural reserves and springs drying up.

This was revealed on Thursday during a meeting on Wetlands Preservation and Awareness with Tafara Residents convened by Harare Wetlands Trust.

Ephraim Mutami who have stayed in Tafara for the past 50 years expressed worry over the way City Authorities and Environmental Management Agency are allowing wetlands invasion in thier area which has been providing them with spring water.

“It is a known fact that Mabvuku has not been receiving water since time immemorial and we have been resorting to get water from springs which gives rise to the development of wetlands but our many worry is that City of Harare and EMA have been allowing infrastructural developments which are now threatening existence of springs and wetlands which we desperately rely on.”

Currently the residents have filed court applications seeking an urgent evacuation of a cement company which is situated in the Tafara Vleis which whose origins is traceble to a nearby spring. In the midst of seeking a legal route residents claim that City Council is found opposing the their bid through engagement of lawyers.

“Currently we are legally fighting for the removal of a brick and cement company situated in one of our very own wetlands whom we have identified as Patsika who happened to be a businessman but what surprises us is a situation where by the City Fathers are now found fighting our legal bid as they now protect this guy through engagement of lawyers.”
“As the Mabvuku Tafara residents we are not going to tolerate any of these corrupt activities by the city council and other authorities, we shall fight hard to protect our Wetlands.”

In response to this, Tafara Ward 46 Councillor Steward Utaunashe explains the circumstances leading to the invasion of wetlands in Mabvuku and some places in Harare saying sometimes government intervention limits the City Council from reversing various illegal developments taking place in many area.

“ As the council we are aware of these illegal developments which are carried out either by private companies or land barons but let me say whenever we try to stop and reverse some of these developments sometimes the government intervenes to protecting the illegally settled people.”

According to Julia Perrie from Harare Wetlands Trust water problems which the whole city is grappling with will only be resolved by the means of preserving the wetlands that have remained in the City.

“One of the critical aspects is that the issues of water problems in Harare will not be solved by drilling more boreholes which are now running out of water, but through the preservation of our wastelands which have remained in the City and other parts of Zimbabwe.”

HWT Programs Officer Selestino Chary also briefed that the Wetlands Initiative Trust is on the overdrive hold Community based Meetings ahead of the National Campaign on Wetlands Preservations whose dates will be announced in due course.

“As Harare Wetlands Trust will be wanting to conscientise the general public that the issue of wetlands calls for everyone’s participation in the entire country so we are trying our best to reach out to every community ahead of National Champaign on Wetlands Preservation , a big event which calls for wider stakeholder participation.”

Tendai Guvamombe