By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
A cluster of civic society, community-based and residents organisations is not relenting on its fight against wetlands invasions mostly in the capital city,Harare .
The Harare Wetlands Trust held a ‘Harare Wetlands Indaba’ which was attended by various stakeholders including the Harare City Council which has been complicit in the invasion of wetlands .
According to Harare Mayor Obert Gomba who was the guest speaker , the local authority is looking at coming with a wetlands policy to enable the preservation of wetlands.
“As Harare City Council we are looking at crafting a wetlands policy for the protection of wetlands,”said Mayor Gomba.
The Harare Mayor also said there was the need to revisit areas ‘that need to be amended in the constitution for the protection of wetlands’.
Former Harare official and internationally-acclaimed urban environmental planner ,Dr Percy Toriro revealed that the city fathers need to come up with a master plan as the existing one is now outdated.
“Harare master plan is 27 years old double a master plan’s life span and has some implemented provisions for protects wetlands and the environment ,” argued Dr Percy Toriro
The city’s woes regarding wetlands invasions may be eased if it is accredited as a ‘wetland city’, says Fiona Iliff ,a lawyer with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
“There are vast opportunities to deal with conservation of wetlands if Harare City consider being accredited as a wetland city,” she proffered.
She also highlighted that if the government domesticate the Ramsar Convention to salvage the remaining wetlands in the city. The Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Zimbabwe also boasts of laws like the Environmental Management Act, Water Act, Zimbabwe National Water Authority Act to mention but a few but they have been criticised for being inept to deal with wetlands invasions which have been largely been perpetrated by politically connected land barons.