Harare (New Ziana) – Harare residents expressed worries on Wednesday that illegal, politically-motivated allocation of residential and commercial stands on wetlands will likely increase as jostling for votes in next month’s by-elections, and 2023 polls heats up.
The country will hold general elections next year, and by-elections on March 26 to fill parliamentary and local government seats left vacant by death, party recalls or re-assignment of incumbents.
Commemorating World Wetlands Day on Wednesday, the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said illegal allocation of land on protected wetlands for both residential and commercial purposes was likely to increase ahead of the elections.
The country’s wetlands, particularly in urban areas, have been depleting rapidly due to human settlement, and agricultural cultivation.
Wetlands are indispensable natural reservoirs of water, and habitat for a wide variety of animal species, some on critical endangered lists.
“We reiterate our position that the main threat to our wetlands are politicians and as we enter into the (election) campaign period ahead of the 2023 elections, we call upon politicians from all political parties to desist from promising people housing stands on wetlands as this is counterproductive,” CHRA said in a statement.
“Government and local authorities must not allow any further land grabs or invasions on any wetland and safeguard the abuse of regularization provisions in the regional Town Planning Act by politically connected land barons”.
The 2022 World Wetlands Day is running under the theme “Wetland Action for People and Nature”.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention that provides an international legal framework on the protection of wetlands.