ENVIRONMENT minister Francis Nhema has dismissed allegations that the construction of West Properties' US$100 million Mall of Zimbabwe in the plush Borrowdale area is threatened by environmental concerns.
This comes as environmentalists, in partnership with Borrowdale West and Dandaro residents who live near the proposed construction site, as well as the city fathers, have raised concerns and are pushing to block the multimillion-dollar property venture on environmental grounds.
Earlier this week, businessdigest learnt the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) is seeking to block the construction project.
Zela research consultant Allan Chaumba said the environmental law group is currently concluding internal consultations that will inform the final course of action.
In an interview with businessdigest this week, Nhema said the project was lawful as long as it satisfied the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) standards.
Nhema's remarks follow West Properties managing director Mike van Blerk's statement that construction of the country's biggest mall will start earlier than the initially planned June 2013 despite an outcry by "pseudo environmentalists" whom he says are ill-informed and are misrepresenting facts.
West Properties remains defiant, announcing plans to go ahead and build a hospital, office park, and cluster houses on the open space.
Van Blerk said the proposed development was approved by Harare City Council in October last year.
Van Blerk said the project would now be completed in October 2014 instead of April 2014 due to delays in securing an environmental impact assessment clearance from Ema.