Given the recent ruling against the development of the Monavale Vlei, residents of Harare, particularly those in the plush suburb of Borrowdale, are waiting with bated breath for the court ruling on Borrowdale wetlands expected to be delivered soon.
The Borrowdale Residents and Ratepayers Association (BRRA) last year filed a court challenge against Augur Investments who were awarded an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate to develop at the Borrowdale wetlands. Judgement is expected soon.
BRRA argued out that it was inappropriate to conduct an EIA at all on a wetland, which should be exempt from any kind of development. However, Augur have maintained that their mitigating measures are sufficient to protect the natural ecosystems. They have committed to not drill boreholes on the site, among other measures.
Augur Investments plan to build a giant modern mall, multiple housing, offices and a medical centre.
Conservation Society of Monavale director and a fervent proponent of wetland preservation, Dorothy Wakeling, said the recent flooding of the area should serve to highlight the importance of wetlands to water movement in the city.
“We are anxiously awaiting court’s decision. There is devastation of buildings in Borrowdale and that is caused by building in wrong places and loss of ecosystems,” she said.
Rector Chitema, who resides along Crowhill Road in Borrowdale, said he will accept any judgement, but was hopeful the court would stop construction at the wetlands as they are very important to the local ecology.
“I will accept whatever judgement that is given, but I hope it will preserve wetlands as are they are a critical component of our nature,” he said.
Prominent figures such as University of Zimbabwe lecturer and inland water expert, Professor Christopher Magadza, have in the past also spoken against building at the wetlands.
“EIAs should not be conducted on wetlands at all as they are protected by the Environmental Management Act.
“The act is the highest in the land and supersedes all other laws. The fact that developers own wetlands does not mean they can do whatever they like with them. It is time the law was interpreted well,” said Magadza to Harare News in a previous interview.
Wetlands are crucial in maintaining water supplies. They absorb rainfall and hold it as natural reservoir that feeds rivers, dams, and underground reserves.
We will update you the minute judgement is out.