HARARE City Council (HCC) has been caught up in a fresh storm after it emerged that the corruption and controversy-riddled municipality is seeking to convert two community golf courses into residential and commercial stands.
Sherwood Golf Course in Mabelreign, which was established in 1961, might soon be flattened to make way for residential stands, which are the choice source of funding for the opposition CCC, the party running the HCC.
Another golf course that could soon be history is Warren Hills Golf Course, as the city fathers snap up any open space for residential or commercial stands, leaving none for recreational purposes.
Both golf courses were set up under town planning rules using land unsuitable for building but zoned for recreation, generally wetlands which even now cannot be legally developed except for recreation.
A council environmental management committee set to endorse the shoddy deal of converting the golf courses was abandoned last Thursday due to squabbles over the constitution of committees involving CCC and MDC-T.
According to an agenda of the environmental management committee circulated to councillors and managers, prior to the meeting, the conversion of the two golf courses was on the top agenda.
“Change of reservation of portions of stands 8112, 8113, 8118 Warren Park Township and 812 Mabelreign Township from open space and recreation (golf course) to mixed-use development (residential, commercial and community facilities) (Solomon Mujuru Road, Harare Drive, Richwell Avenue and Sherwood Drive Harare),” read the agenda in part.
Environmental management committee chairperson, Clr Tendai Matafi, yesterday said generation of agendas was the duty of technocrats.
“As a committee, we verify if the whole process is in order. We then recommend to the ministry using section 43 subsection 3 of Urban Councils Act. It is the Minister of Local Government, through physical planning, who gives the go-ahead or cancels.
“Town planning matters are done by town planners. The item must be accompanied by circulations from departments that also have technocrats.
“The Environmental Management Agency is also a player in that matrix to confirm the issue of wetlands and soil texture,” he said.
Sherwood was the major golf course for the Mabelreign and Meyrick Park areas with an active membership.
Vandalism of fencing and other amenities in the 2000s was a problem with the council doing little to protect the area.
The golf club was set up as an amenity for the suburb and surrounding areas and, as with many city golf clubs, it is a wetland.
If the plans to convert Warren Hills golf club into stands sails through then its revamping into a world-class golf facility will also suffer a major setback.
The golf course is currently in a bad state compared to what it was almost two decades ago and requires work but is considered to be a permanent amenity for the benefit of the people of Harare.
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