4 December 2017

Zimbabwe: Residents Blame Corruption, Abuse of Power for Wetlands Destruction

A cross section of Harare residents have blamed corruption and abuse of political power for rampant wetlands destruction in the capital.

According to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) Harare's water table is falling drastically as a result of rampant wetlands destruction.

Speaking during a stakeholders meeting held in the capital on Thursday, residents expressed concern over failure by authorities to adequately implement provisions of the law that protect wetlands and guard against environmental degradation.

The residents bemoaned that authorities such as the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Harare City Council were failing to consult them before authorizing developments on wetlands.

The residents said this pointed to corruption on the part of the responsible authorities adding that corrupt authorities were taking advantage of the loopholes within the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process to authorize developments on wetlands.

Resident, Israel Mabhoo said protecting wetlands should start by dealing with corruption by politicians and other responsible authorities.

"We have seen major projects being carried out on wetlands and these projects are continuing regardless of the fact that residents and other environmentalists are against destruction of wetlands. We have authorities that are supposed to protect wetlands but when we see these wetlands being continuously invaded, we are left to suspect that there is a hand of corruption

"This corruption needs to be investigated and corrective measures must be taken otherwise there is going to be complete destruction of wetlands in Harare," said Mabhoo.

Another resident, Greater Gumunyu said, "We are very much concerned that the responsible authorities are not moved by the destruction of wetlands in Harare. In fact they are actually benefitting from illegal land sales which have led to the destruction of wetlands. Our concern as residents is that we will end up without water since the wetlands are important sources of water."

An official from ZINWA preset during the stakeholders meeting, Theodore Nherera said continued wetlands destruction poses a huge threat to water availability in Harare.

"The continued destruction of the wetlands means we are not getting any water recharge and year in, year out, the water table is getting lower. This is coming at a time the demand for water in Harare is increasing and there ought to be a way to preserve our wetlands as a way of ensuring water availability," said Nherera.

Besides run off, wetlands are the major sources of water for Harare.

Of late, wetlands have been under threat mainly due to construction and agriculture.

Harare Mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni is on record saying wetlands destruction in Harare was emanating largely from corruption and abuse of power.

Manyenyeni made the remarks last month during a tour of Hillside Park which has been invaded by individuals who are erecting illegal structures inside the park which is a wetland as well as recreational facility.

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