By Lloyd Takawira
Despite the importance of wetlands to the environment, the Chitungwiza Municipality stands accused of committing climate injustice, decimating wetlands in the domitory town.
Wetlands filter water by breaking down harmful pollutants including chemicals, separate them from the water, and use the chemicals as fertilizer for vegetation growing on the wetland. They are also natural sewage systems, filtering out waste and running clean water into rivers.
Most wetlands in Chitungwiza have all been destroyed from Seke to St Mary’s by land barons.
In Zengeza 4 Pagomba a wetland stretching from Zengeza 3 high School to Chitungwiza Hospital has been turned into a residential area.
Who is to blame?
Wetland dwellers and authorities accuse each of presiding over the destruction of wetlands around the country.
In an interview with Bustop TV News, some residents at Zengeza 4 Pagomba accused Chitungwiza Municipality officials of colluding with a well known land baron and parceling out stands located on a wetland area.
Speaking to this reporter, Mrs Macharaga, a government employee said she did not know the importance of wetlands when she bought her residential stand in 2008.
“I bought this stand and I knew this place is a wetland , but l overlooked the issue because I needed somewhere to settle. We were told that they were going to be good drainage systems,” she said.
For Benson Makanda, the quest for a home in town drove him to buy a residential stand on a wetland while he was fully aware that the area is inhabitable. Makanda claimed council officials would come and promise that council will construct a good drainage system in order to lure ‘clients’.
“I needed somewhere I could call home. It’s everyone’s desire to have a house in town. I did not know that every year floods would ravage me. After some research, l discovered that we should not have settled on the wetland.”
Another resident, Mike Munyoro a teacher at one of the secondary schools in Chitungwiza said when the opportunity to buy land arose it didn’t ring in his mind that he would be settling on a wetland and prejudicing the environment.
“When the opportunity came, l grabbed it with both hands. I blame the council for allowing us to settle here well knowing that this area should not inhabit people.
“Through flooding and reading, l then discovered that we did wrong in occupying this wetland. All the same l blame the council. Why did they allow us to build here? They know the importance of wetlands as the planning authority,” he fumed.
Attempts to get a comment from council were to no avail.
In June 2020, Chitungwiza Municipality was fined $24,000 by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for selling stands on wetlands.
A Parliamentary Portfolio Committee report on Environment and Tourism on Wetlands Management, presented to Parliament in February 2020 postulated that, council officials particularly Harare and Chitungwiza colluding with land barons decimating wetlands .
‘This article was produced with the financial support of WAN-IFRA Media Freedom. Its contents are the sole responsibility of <Lloyd Takawira/BustopTV> and do not necessarily reflect the views of the WAN-IFRA Media Freedom,WAN-IFRA FR, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.’