A cross section of Harare residents have blamed the Harare City Council for double standards which have led to corrupt allocation of land on undesignated sites such as wetlands.
This came out during a meeting held on Monday in Borrowdale.
The meeting, which was hosted by the Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) sought to explore ways through which residents can mobilize and avoid the rampant destruction of wetlands in Harare.
The Harare City Council Environmental Management Committee Chairperson, Councilor Herbert Gomba is on record saying council only allocates land for development purposes after approval from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
However, residents who attended the Borrowdale meeting said their investigations at community level revealed that there was rampant corruption in council and this has led to the invasion of wetlands in the capital.
A Hillside resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they approached council after wetlands in their area had been earmarked for housing purposes. Initially, said the resident, council officials were adamant that the area was ideal for housing purposes but after the residents threatened to take legal action, council wrote to them saying they had reversed the allocation of the land in question.
“So what this means is that there is corruption at council. Honestly, how does council sell undesignated land to residents and then alter on acknowledge that they have made a mistake. As residents, we need to stand up and expose the corrupt allocation of land at the Harare City Council,” said the resident.
Wetlands are the major sources of water for Harare after run-off. The water sources have however been under threat manly due to urban cultivation and development projects.
Another resident from Eastlea said council was riding on the ignorance among residents to invade wetlands at will.
“In our case, council later backtracked when we indicated that we were taking them to court. What made them to backtrack was the fact that they knew very well that what they were doing was illegal and they were not going to win in court. Council needs to be brought to book because they are acting illegally on the issue of wetlands,” said the resident.
Harare Wetlands Trust Coordinator, Julia Pierini said there was need for concerted efforts to save wetlands in Harare.
She said that the Harare City Council’s dream to achieve World Class City Status by 2025 would be hindered by the destruction of wetlands “because we can’t have a World Class city without water”.