War on wetlands invasions rages on

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planner ,Dr Percy Toriro revealed that the city fathers need to come up with a master plan as the existing  one is now outdated.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.