Students from some Harare schools have been deeply disturbed by the intended developments on the Monavale vlei by a Harare family. The pupils expressed their concerns about the proposed developments and asked council to intervene. They are objecting to the continued destruction of wetlands and calling for it to stop immediately, claiming that developments are disastrous for the environment.
Twin Rivers School is built alongside the Marimba River which flows into the Monavale wetland and joins other streams that lead off to Lake Chivero. Students from the school filed 28 letters of appeal urging authorities at Town House to intervene. The Headmistress, Blanche Davie, says the petition was from concerned students who had toured the vlei a number of times to do their environmental studies.
“My visit to Monavale Vlei was an eye opener. There is so much life in the wetlands that I never thought of before,” said a pupil from David Livingstone School who has visited the vlei. Danai Mawarire, a grade seven pupil at Alfred Beit School in Mabelreign which is close to the vlei, was dismal, “Think of the thousands of creatures that are going to be lost. If it were humans we would all shout, ‘Arrest the killers and send them to jail’. We should do the same to people who destroy our environment.”
According to Jimmy Muropa, a representative from the Conservation Society of Monavale Trust (COSMO), the Twin Rivers’ petitions which were submitted to Town House cited among other issues the value of wetlands, their functions and the biodiversity found within the vlei. “The petitions were in the form of letters written by students objecting to the developments. I was actually impressed that the students were so articulate about the issues,” said Muropa.
Construction of housing units and commercial buildings on wetlands has become a thorny issue in Harare over the past few years. While most of Harare’s wetlands are gazetted under the environmental laws of the country, many have been under pressure from the demands of commercial developers.
The Monavale wetland has been a good case study for school children of a well preserved and conserved wetland. Since being declared a Ramsar site, students have been taking regular tours of the wetland, observing and taking note of life forms associated with wetlands, that includes birds and grass species. The overall Monavale Ramsar site is 594 ha in extent with the protected Monavale Vlei at its centre, nestled between the hilly suburbs of Monavale and Meyrick Park.
The core protected area is 34 ha, 1461m in elevation and located in the municipal area of Mabelreign. Monavale Vlei has been one of Zimbabwe’s seven Ramsar sites since 2001. The Conservation Society of Monavale Trust, (COSMO), and Monavale residents have been working strenuously to protect Monavale Vlei, together with Birdlife Zimbabwe, non-government organisations, and national and local government authorities. COSMO continues to pressure national and local government authorities to protect all remaining wetlands and open spaces in and around Harare.