By Watmore Makokoba
Harare residents concerned with the continued invasion of wetlands by land barons petitioned Parliament this week to exercise its legislative powers and reign in to stop the depletion.
The residents who took advantage of the World Wetlands Day Celebrations to march in Harare and hand a petition to Parliament say the legislature must review and strengthen frameworks that are used in issuing of the Environmental Impact Assessment certificates contained in Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 among other issues.
In the petition, the residents who were represented by various civic organisations said they are concerned by the rate at which wetlands are quickly disappearing without any meaningful action from government and local authorities.
“The petitioners beseech Parliament of Zimbabwe to compel Ministry of Environment Water and Climate to complete re-gazetting of Harare wetland Map, development of National Environmental Action Plan and direct local authorities to develop an environmental friendly master plan.
“We call upon Parliament to synchronize laws and ensure harmony on provisions of the Environment Management Act, Statutory Instruments and the Regional Town and Country Planning Act,” read part of the petition.
The petition from residents comes at a time when Mabvuku-Tafara legislator James Maridadi gave notice in the National Assembly that he will be moving a motion on the depletion of wetlands in Harare.
There were high expectations that the motion which was on the National Assembly Order Paper would be moved today but the House decided to adjourn early before they could deal with the issue.
Meanwhile, Harare City Council Environmental Committee chairperson Councillor Herbert Gomba called on Parliament to ensure domestication of the Ramsar Agreement and also adopt statutes for the protection of wetlands.
“We are challenging EMA to work with council, and not in the manner at which we are working now and to make sure that corruption is shunned in the process of issuance Environment Impact Assessment certificates,” he said.
Some of the organisations that were present during the march and petition handover include Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Harare Wetlands Trust, Community Water Alliance, Harare metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF), Norton Residents Alliance, Epworth Residents Development Association, Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHTREST), Conservation Society of Manyame, and Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association among others.