Residents from Budiriro are set to launch a court challenge against the continued invasion of wetlands in their area.
By Edgar Gweshe
This comes following revelations that hundreds of unsuspecting home seekers in the area, which falls under Ward 33 face eviction after they were allocated residential stands on an undesignated area by suspected Zanu (PF) youths.
According to some of the residents who bought the stands, the youths vanished as soon as it was indicated by officials that the area where the housing stands were being sold was unsuitable for housing purposes.
The youths, according to sources, claimed they had been given the green light “from above”.
A visit to the area, which borders Budiriro 3 and Budiriro 5 showed that houses are being built on a swampy area with some being built along river banks.
In an interview, the Treasurer of the Budiriro Local Environment Action Plan (LEAP) Committee, Claude Kaharo expressed concern that wetlands destruction was going on unabated in their area.
He said urban cultivation and construction projects had emerged as the major threats to the survival of wetlands in the area.
“A lot of houses are mushrooming on wetlands and what this means is that we are compromising water availability and this has effects on the current as well as future generations. As the Budiriro LEAP Committee, we are carrying out educative projects aimed at raising awareness among community members over the need to preserve wetlands.
“We however have a challenge of corruption and abuse of power by some individuals who continue to invade the wetlands for housing purposes. We have tried to engage the Harare City Council but we are also planning to file a court challenge so that we get an order which protects wetlands in our area,” said Kaharo.
Wetlands are the major sources of water for Harare after runoff.
Due to the continued depletion of these important water sources, the water table in Harare has drastically gone down, according to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).
In an effort to ensure preservation of the wetlands, the Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) has launched a campaign aimed at mobilizing active participation by community members in preserving wetlands.
Harare City Council spokesperson, Michael Chideme said he needed time to get more information concerning the developments in Budiriro. He however had not responded by the time of publication.
However, the Councilor for the area, Oddrey Chirombe confirmed that the housing stands were illegal.
He said the continued invasion of wetlands in his area was a huge cause for concern and challenged home seekers to follow proper procedure when looking for housing stands.
“That area is indeed a wetland and the people who are settled there are more of invaders. The stands were allocated without council approval and that place is certainly not suitable for houses because it is a wetland. People should follow prper procedure not to settle wherever they want” said Chirombe.