Residents of Zambezi Flats along Quendon Road in Mabelreign are accused of bringing down the neighbourhood by dumping their rubbish in the bushes and vlei area on the corner of Seven Oaks Drive and Quendon.
In addition to this, some Mabelreign residents are frustrated by the illegal cultivation of the local wetland areas, in particular the Monavale Vlei – one of Zimbabwe’s seven protected RAMSAR sites.
Harare News was alerted to these issues by concerned resident Jack Revolta. Speaking on the appalling behaviour of the Zambezi Flats residents, he said, “l have made numerous phone calls to the staff of Waste Management Services of the City of Harare. Despite promises to take action in terms of the Environment Act nothing happens. The people living in the flats should be fined and more importantly instructed to remove the rubbish.”
Zambezi Flats residents were unfazed by the accusations, claiming that council regularly fails to collect their rubbish, leaving them no choice. But this appears to be untrue.
Councillor for the area, Ward 16’s Lancelot Mudavanhu, dismissed the residents’ claims. “The residents are behaving irresponsibly because the refuse truck comes every Monday to collect garbage,” he said. Conversations with nearby residents confirmed that rubbish collection was indeed taking place.
Further environmental degradation is taking place on the surrounding vleis, in the form of rampant cultivation. Tilling has run right up to the banks of the Marimba River, in some cases with the use of tractors. The Marimba River is a protected wetland area.
Harare News spoke to Dorothy Wakeling, Monavale Vlei Programme Manager for the Conservation Society of Monavale (COSMO). “Zimbabwe is a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and Monovale Vlei is a protected Ramsar site. The area around the Marimba is protected, and cultivation and construction developments are not permitted by law,” said Wakeling – who lives nearby.
“This area has been cultivated commercially this past year right up to the banks of the Little Marimba,” said Wakeling, who pointed the finger at a farm equipment outlet on Quendon road for possibly facilitating the destruction of the vlei.
Wakeling called on authorities to forget politics, and to employ sufficient manpower to enforce Harare’s by-laws. “The Environmental Management Agency served an order on the City Council to halt all agriculture in the city at the beginning of the 2014 / 2015 rainy season or face a fine! If you visited Town House late last year you could see a revolving neon sign stating that all maize crops on open spaces or wetlands would be slashed,” she said.
Scientists agree that wetland and stream bank cultivation contribute to the pollution and siltation of our streams, rivers, and dams. Lake Chivero is reportedly in dire straits due to pollution caused by fertilizers and human waste contaminating the river water. Siltation is also a worry, as the upstream rivers and wetlands – including Monavale – get washed out by the rain, which falls unchecked by erosion-preventing wetlands. This has a knock-on effect on our water purification plants, our urban water supply, and, consequently, on the pockets of ratepayers.