High Court faults City Of Harare for construction of houses on wetlands

By Court Reporter

The High Court has faulted the City of Harare (CoH) for disobeying
a lawful court order after the local authority continued with housing
developments on a wetland in one of Harare’s suburbs.

High Court Judge Justice Mary Zimba-Dube on Friday 27 September 2019
declared CoH to be in contempt of court after some residents of
Greendale suburb in Harare represented by Memory Mafo and Fiona Iliff
of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights petitioned the High Court by
filing a court application for contempt of court against the local
authority.

In their application, the Greendale Residents and Ratepayers
Association argued that CoH had proceeded to continue with housing
developments on the Latimer/Greengroove Wetland Area and the Nature
Reserve and Open and Passive space also known as Stand 298 Athlone
Township in the Mukuvisi Catchment Area in Greendale suburb in
flagrant defiance of and total contempt of a lawful court order issued
by Justice Erica Ndewere. On 8 May 2019, Justice Ndewere prohibited
the local authority from developing and or constructing on a wetland
until and unless the local municipality had fully complied with the
requirements of the Environmental Management Act and the Regional,
Town and Country Planning Act.

In court, Mafo and Iliff argued that CoH’s conduct was unlawful and
called on the court to hold the local authority to be in contempt.

Justice Zimba-Dube also fined CoH ZWL$5, which was wholly suspended on
condition that the local authority immediately complies with Justice
Ndewere’s order issued on 8 May 2019.

Apart from CoH, Environmental Management Agency, Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing Minister Hon. July Moyo,
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Hon. Mangaliso Ndlovu
and Upper Manyame Sub-Catchment Council were also cited as respondents
by Greendale Residents and Ratepayers Association.
On several occasions, ZLHR has emphasised that wetlands need to be
maintained for the ecosystem to be preserved and has urged government
to put mechanisms to help protect and preserve wetlands with calls for
authorities to establish a national environment council and bar land
barons from allocating stands on swamps.

ZLHR has also expressed grave concern at the continued destruction and
disturbance of wetlands around the country, pointing out that this
destruction and degradation of wetlands has far reaching implications
on the sustained availability of ground water, which is also heavily
relied upon by many households that are not able to access municipal
water.