Politicization of issues at Harare City Council has largely been blamed for the continued allocation of housing stands on wetlands.
This came out at a stakeholder engagement meeting held by the Combined Harare Resides Association (CHRA) in Harare on January 6, 2017.
The meeting, which was attended by various civic society organizations as well as commissioners from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), was meant to serve as a platform to deliberate on the crisis in Harare as well as to proffer possible solutions.
In his presentation, CHRA Chief Executive Officer, Mfundo Mlilo said they were concerned that council had assured them that it was not their policy to allocate wetlands for building purposes yet houses continue to sprout on undesignated land.
“We continue to receive conflicting signals from officials. If you talk to the Mayor, he tells you it is not council policy to allocate wetlands for building purposes and the Town Clerk has been telling us the same. Even Ministry officials will tell you it is not their policy to build on wetlands yet we continue to see houses being built on wetlands.
“We are left to suspect that there is politics at play. But we are concerned because many residents have fallen victim to floods as their houses are built on wetlands,” said Mlilo.
ZHRC Chairperson, Elasto Mugwadi said they were concerned that housing stands continue to be allocated on wetlands.
He said the commission would investigate the unlawful allocation of housing stands on wetlands.
“We also feel that we need to educate the city fathers on their roles and responsibilities. It is imperative for local authorities to adhere to the laws of the country in the execution of their duties. We need to make sure that everything is done in a proper and orderly manner,” said Mugwadi.
Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) Director, Marvelous Khumalo said they had recorded a high number of residents who had fallen victim to flooding after they built their houses on wetlands in the dormitory town.
Other issues raised during the CHRA stakeholder engagement meeting included poor service delivery which led to the typhoid outbreak as well as the Harare City Council’s ill-advised move to allocate most of its revenue to salaries at the expense of service delivery.
The Harare City Council is currently collecting $13 million monthly of which $9 million is going towards salaries while only $1 million is going towards service delivery.
CHITRESTCombined Harare Residents AssociationMonavale vleiZimbabwe Human Rights Commission