We have had a cholera outbreak, energy crisis and as a country we cannot move from one crisis to the next. The next obvious crisis is the shortage of underground water.

On the 31st of May 2019 a request was made to raise the serious issue of construction and development on wetlands and open spaces that are left for ventilation when our towns and cities are developed. In Zimbabwe now, commercial and housing construction projects are the greatest threat to our cities and town wetlands.

According to the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20; 27) wetlands are defined as:

“Areas of marsh, fen, peat-land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including riparian land adjacent to the wetland”.

The construction and development is so rampant that all ventilation and wetland areas in the likes of Marblereign and Sunridge have all been sold out and under some kind of construction development.  As Engineers we are here by requesting the government, local authorities and construction firms to immediately stop all developments and constructions that are taking place on all wetlands and strategic open spaces.

As a nation, Zimbabwe is a Signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of 1971 and has domesticated provisions for the protection of wetlands under the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20;27), Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 on Environmental Management (Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection) Regulations and Government Gazette 380 of 2013. It is our role to protect these important areas of our ecosystem.

According to the Environmental Management Act (CAP 20:27) and Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 Environmental Management (EIA and Ecosystems Protection Regulations) govern wetland utilisation in Zimbabwe. Section 113 of the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27) section 113 gives the Minister of Environment powers to

Declare any wetland to be an ecologically sensitive area and may impose limitations on development in or around such an area.

Prohibit the reclamation or drainage, disturbance by drilling or tunneling in a manner that has or is likely to have an adverse impact on any wetland or adversely affect any animal or plant life therein.

Failure to abide by the law is a crime that attracts a fine not exceeding level eight ($500) or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both such fine and such imprisonment.

With these laws in place we are kindly requesting that the relevant authorities involved in these illicit dealings be investigated and prosecuted including the individual inspectors who approved constructions on these protected areas. We are reliably informed that there is corruption taking place with some EMA authorities approving developments in these areas after getting some underhand payments. There is further evidence that those building on these illegal wetlands are either government officials or council employees including councilors themselves.

As Zimbabweans it is our role to preserve our wetlands. Wetlands are part of our day to day life and are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Wetlands are areas of land where water covers the soil, for all or a portion of the year. Wetlands come in many forms including swamps, marshes, estuaries, mudflats, lakes, lagoons, ponds, deltas, coral reefs, billabongs, shallow seas, floodplains, and more. No matter the shape or size, wetlands provide numerous important services for people, fish and wildlife such as protecting and improving water quality, providing habitats for fish and wildlife, storing floodwaters, maintaining surface water flow during dry periods, and reducing soil erosion.

Let us protect our wetlands.

Engineer Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi contact: +263772278161

Chairman of the ICT Divison of Zimbabwe Institution Engineers (ZIE), Member of the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe (ECZ), Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and a Member of Institute of Directors (IOD)

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