South Africa: Yesterday, the Combined Harare Residents Association conducted a Provincial Dialogue Forum on Wetlands Protection to enable stakeholders to share and explore policy strategies that can be implemented to stop wetlands destruction in Harare.
The dialogue comes after the Government of Zimbabwe gazetted the wetland map volume XCX number 2118 general notice 2121 on the 7th of October 2022 as protected ecological sensitive areas. Harare metropolitan has been experiencing rampant wetland destruction through illegal residential stand allocation by land barons and also noncompliance with the Ramsar site areas by the authorities.
Speaking during the meeting, the Head of the City Environmental Unit, Lisben Chipfunde, highlighted weak implementation and enforcement of the law to protect wetlands within the City of Harare, which has seen illegal development taking place in the ecologically sensitive areas in Harare.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Humana Rights representative, Fiona Iliff, while presenting on the legal framework governing wetlands protection, emphasized how the lack of political will by the government to domesticate the Ramsar Convention has promoted the destruction of wetlands. Moreover, she also put across the fact that the laws which govern wetlands protection are uncoordinated, especially administrative laws, mining laws and environmental laws. The mining law authorizes development on a wetland and ecologically sensitive areas.
The National Coordinator for Community Water Alliance, Hardlife Mudzingwa, put across that wetlands destruction in the metropolitan province will further reduce the recharge of streams, purification of raw water and carbon sequestration which will reduce raw water availability. He further recommended the need to move to ecosystem-based adaptation as a foundation of the metropolitan water delivery agenda.
Moreover, Residents Against Land Degradation (RALD) Chairperson Mr Nixon Nyikadzino emphasized the strength of Residents’ Associations working together and forming coalitions to advocate for the protection of Wetlands while engaging residents at a community level so that they become aware.
Hence, as a result, Residents’ Associations and present stakeholders came up with the following collective actions towards the protection of Wetlands:
i. Movement building on wetlands and climate justice on a national level
ii. Production of a model by law on wetlands and environment protection for the Harare Province
iii. Coming up with advocacy interventions for protecting Monavale Vlei, which is under siege
iv. Declaration of Harare as a wetlands city under Ramsar Convention