The move by the Harare City Council to allocate housing stands to workers in lieu of salaries is facing resistance from residents who are contending that the areas identified by council are wetland areas.
In November 2019, council announced plans to offer 3 470 housing stands to cover up for salary arrears dating back to 2017.
The residents, under the banner of Cleveland Action Alliance and Gosden Conservation Trust contend that destruction of wetlands due to construction is worsening the water crisis in the capital hence the need for concerted efforts to protect and preserve wetland areas.
Wetlands are the main sources of water for Harare after run off but have largely been under threat due to construction and urban agriculture.
The residents, from Mabvuku and Tafara, have since written to the Harare City Council Town Clerk, Hosiah Chisango and the Provincial Minister for Harare, Senator Oliver Chidawu seeking to stop the move by the council.
“We write to the City of Harare with great concern regarding the proposed allocation of 3 470 stands in Mabvuku, Tafara and Eyestone by the City of Harare to its employees in lieu of salary arrears dating back to 2017. On the ground, Shelter Zimbabwe and Star Shine Housing Cooperatives are advertising that stands are available and ready for sale.
“Residents in Tafara and Mabvuku have gone for 30 years without receiving water. Allocation of stands on the wetlands will result in a further shortage of water for residents of Mabvuku and Tafara and the greater Harare residents as the main water source will have been destroyed,’ read the letter from the residents.
No response has been given to the residents yet regarding their objections.
Chairperson of the City Human Resources Department, Councilor Jacob Mafume however confirmed that council was going ahead with the stands allocation.
“Workers’ unions are working with management to come up with a list of the workers and look at the concerns of the workers involved. Distribution will start as soon as that process is completed,” said Mafume.
Council intends to issue 1 832 stands in Mabvuku, 342 stands in Tafara and 1 000 stands in Eyestone.
The Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) has since raised concern over the intended move by council. HWT has engaged council as well as the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
In a letter of response to HWT, the Provincial Manager for EMA, Harare Province, Robson Mavondo said that no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate had been issued with regards to the Mabvuku and Tafara stands as no application had been made with the agency.
Cleveland Action Alliance Chairperson, Jimmy Mahachi said they were considering the litigation route in light of the threat to wetlands in Mabvuku, Tafara and Eyestone.