BY MISHMA CHAKANYUKA
Government is considering taking over all wetlands and classifying them as State land in a bid to promote their sustainable use and management.
The southern African nation has approximately 1 271 wetlands, covering 3% of the total land area, but they are fast depleting because of massive uncontrolled commercial and housing construction projects.
Unsustainable agricultural activities, resource extraction and veld fires have contributed to the rapid destruction of wetlands in urban and rural areas across the country.
“Gazetted wetlands to be declared State land under the ministry of environment, tourism and hospitality industry to ensure continued protection of gazetted wetlands. Government to take responsibility on the compensation thereof where necessary,” Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Priscah Mupfumira (pictured) said last week.
Chinhoyi Senator Prisca Mupfumira
“The City of Harare has a total land area of 69 483 hectares of which 23 229 hectares is from 29 wetlands. In Harare, 13 out of 29 wetlands have been taken over for construction of different projects,” she said.
Chitungwiza has a total land area of 5 109ha with 912 hectare being wetlands.
Mupfumira said challenges rendering the policy measures ineffective include weak co-ordination and cooperation by State agencies and the right of ownership and limitation of rights versus environmental rights.
“We have instituted a national taskforce to deal with the use of wetlands and we have representatives from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing;
Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Environmental Management Authority to review and synchronise all the statutory instruments and by-laws that regulate wetland use and management,” she said.