THE wetland in the Cleveland Dam Catchment area is reportedly under siege with construction taking place in the aftermath of the announcement by Government that it had approved a National Wetlands Policy to protect wetlands.
According to the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), building on the site started on Friday last week.
“Cleveland Dam Catchment Wetland Area (is) under siege. Construction activities commenced last Friday in the wetland area behind Donny Brook Motor Racing which is part of the Cleveland Dam Catchment,” CHRA said in a statement.
The residents body said the land developer has started putting in place roads chewing up the eastern part of the wetland.
Describing the move as startling, CHRA said the building at Cleveland is happening at a time when the Government has come up with a national policy to protect wetlands which are key in water provision.
The body said the Cleveland Dam area was an internationally recognised wetland under the Ramsar Convention, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. The Ramsar Convention …
“Furthermore, the Cleveland Dam area including part of its catchment wetland area is protected by international law under the Ramsar Convention which Zimbabwe is a signatory. The wetland area is a vital water source for Cleveland Dam which ultimately flows into Lake Chivero, a primary water source for Harare water supply,” CHRA said.
The residents body this is not the first time the wetlands have come under threat as towards the 2018 harmonised elections, former Deputy Minister of Finance Mr Terrence Mukupe was stopped by the Environmental Management Agency when he wanted to construct buildings in the wetland.
CHRA is in consultation with the City of Harare over the developments at the Cleveland Dam catchment area.
“The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) recently published Wetlands Master Plan which should guide spatial planning for local authorities. CHRA has engaged the City of Harare Planning Department seeking information on the approval of the construction activities in the wetland.”
Two weeks ago, Cabinet considered and approved the proposed National Wetlands Policy and Guidelines which will guide wetlands management in the country.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post-Cabinet media briefing that the policy will facilitate the establishment of institutions and laws for integrated management of wetlands.
The policy and guidelines were presented by chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
“The approved Policy will guide wetlands management for incorporation in development planning by Government, the private sector and development partners, Traditional Leaders, communities and individuals. The Policy will facilitate the establishment of an effective and efficient institutional and legal framework for integrated management, and enhance capacity building within relevant institutions involved in the management of wetlands,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Government will designate all wetlands as areas that are unsuitable for settlement, gazette all ecologically sensitive wetlands, undertake orderly relocation of people in order to pave way for the rehabilitation of wetlands, and enforce the requirement for Environmental Management Agency certification for any developments in sensitive wetlands.
There shall be efficient measures for waste management from point of source, with stiff penalties being imposed for the offence of discharging waste into wetlands.
“Government shall establish wetland education centres countrywide, set up functional local wetland management institutions, restore the powers of Traditional Leaders in wetland management, and strengthen legislation to protect various habitats found on wetlands.
“Government will also intensify the development of climate change mitigation measures to safeguard wetlands, establish and develop recreation and eco-tourism facilities for sustainable wetland management, and promote efficient techniques and technologies for crop and livestock production on wetlands where these activities are considered appropriate.
“Treasury will avail in tranches the resources required to kick-start the rehabilitation of 20 wetlands, 2 per province, before the onset of the 2021/2022 rainfall season,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.