The Environment Management Agency (EMA) has ordered a property developer to stop housing developments on a critical wetland in Harare following protests by environmental rights campaigners.
EMA recently issued the Environmental Protection Order against Maizeville Projects barring the property developer to stop any infrastructure and housing developments on a piece of land located at the corner of Lyndhurst/ Quendon Road on Monavale Vlei East on the Monavale Wetland Ramsar Site, which is of global importance and one of the primary water sources for City of Harare.
The Environmental Protection Order was issued after Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) and some Monavale suburb residents represented by Conservation Society of Monavale (COSMO), a community-based organisation reported Maizeville Projects, the property developer, to City of Harare and EMA objecting to the development and requesting any documentation authorising the development.
The objection by HWT and COSMO came after construction workers from Maizeville Projects started putting in place culverts to service the development of infrastructure and houses.
In a letter written by Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to various stakeholders including City of Harare and EMA, HWT and COSMO protested that they were not aware of an Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate or development permit issued in relation to the development project, nor has any amendment to the Local Plan been gazetted. In addition, HWT and COSMO argued that residents living in Monavale have not been notified of the development personally or through publication of a notice in newspapers.
Iliff said HWT and COSMO are extremely concerned by the developments by Maizeville Projects as any construction on the protected wetland would have devastating long-term environmental impact to the delicate ecology of the wetland and to Harare residents’ water supply given that this is a crucial catchment area.
The proposed development on Monavale Vlei, HWT and COSMO said is unlawful because residents have a right in terms of Section 73 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations.