Wetlands mall construction continues

via Wetlands mall construction continues | The Zimbabwean. 08 June 2014

Construction of a controversial multi-million mall on wetlands in Borrowdale is gathering momentum in defiance of a government gazette last year that designated it as a protected area.

Civil works are gathering pace, with constructors currently developing a road network and services. This has riled environmentalists and Borrowdale residents who want the Augur Investments project to be shifted to another area where it will not threaten underground water reserves, flora and fauna.

Last August the Ministry of Environment, then led by Minister Francis Nhema, gazetted more than 400 areas across Harare as protected wetlands. But the notice, by declaring that property rights of private owners in the designated areas would not be affected, provided a loophole for the developers.

A mall, built by the Chinese, has already been completed close to the National Sports Stadium, despite spirited campaigns against it by residents and environmentalists.

Borrowdale residents are reportedly currently lobbying the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to reverse its approval of the mall.

“It is an embarrassment in the first place that EMA would approve such a project on a crucial wetland. Its process was flawed because it assessed the environmental impact of the project in an isolated manner; it looked at pockets of the vlei instead of adopting a holistic approach,” said one of the campaigning residents.

“The fact that EMA unashamedly approved the project and construction continues on protected land has brought it, and the country, under international scrutiny and that is very bad,” he added.

He said if construction was not stopped immediately, it would be difficult to stop once buildings were up – as happened in the case of the Chinese mall that became bogged down in issues relating to compensation for the developers and owners.

Chris Mbanga, the chairperson of the Harare City Council Environmental Management Committee, warned that a continued disregard of the wetlands would worsen the city’s water crisis.

“If we don’t protect out wetlands, Harare will have no water at all in 50 years’ time,” he said. Because of the scarcity of running water, many residents have resorted to digging wells and drilling boreholes, increasing competition for the underground water held by wetlands.

The Borrowdale mall project is mired in controversy, after the Local Government ministry gave Augur Investments the land as part payment for the construction of Harare Airport Road.

In a research paper, Christopher Mugadza, a Nobel Laureate, biologist and leading expert on inland water, said developments on the Borrowdale wetlands would lead to loss of biodiversity, downstream flooding and loss of groundwater recharge capacity.

He also said the Environmental Impact Assessment carried out on the wetlands was “flawed”.

“It is incomprehensible that EMA approved it. Council could seek services of a competent independent reviewer for the EIA,” he said.

Saviour Kasukuwere, the current Environment Minister, could not be reached for a comment as his phone was unavailable. EMA spokesperson, Steady Kangata, was not picking his phone after repeated attempts.



  • comment-avatar
    Doris 8 years ago

    They don’t give a sodding toss. Gimme the money. That’s all they care about. Who cares if it stuffs up the environment for our children and grandchildren. Tell the greedy South African developers to piss off back from where they have come from and screw up some other wetlands in their own country. Makes me sick.

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    Joshua 8 years ago

    Time to take things in our hands, Citizens must start acting now by Boycott all businesses on wetlands. Lets campaign to boycott the Chinese wetlands mall at national sports, the Sam Levy and the Borrowdale Vlei. This will teach them not to take us forgranted

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    zanupf fear me 8 years ago

    White traitors will be regretting their greed

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    I am looking forward to another mall in the area. Sam Levy’s village is looking tired and his rents are too high. Too much fuss is made by too many ignorant people about wetlands. As Harare grows the open areas are going to be filled in. Get used to it.

    • comment-avatar
      Doris 8 years ago

      I hope that comment is tongue in cheek.

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      saundy 8 years ago

      ‘John Thomas’ while I agree with your Sam Levy comments you surely can’t believe that building a another mall 1 km away, makes any sense. It does seem in the current political environment that construction will go ahead, so maybe it’s time for those opposing it’s construction, to change tack & insist it is built in line with the suggestions made by ‘Tfara’. Digging your heels in doesn’t always work & this way you can have some measure of influence over how the mall is constructed.

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    Tfara 8 years ago

    There is no flora and fauna on the Borrowdale waste land. The city can influence thru agreements with developers to build ponds and dams ,plant trees, and bushes which once existed in this area,improve the quality of the soil and creat a beautiful area shared by man and nature with running and walking paths, safe cycling tracks for our children, all maintained by the the organizations occupying the 20% or so of build up land. Some development will not stop the rain coming down. However if developed correctly, can help keep the runoff to a minimum and help replenish the underground supplies.
    Let’s think positively

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    The Mind Boggles 8 years ago

    Tfara nice dream and possible if created and constructed by the right people but I’m afraid between the Chinese and ZANU all you will have is one big filthy informal market breeding thieves and malcontents

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      old Age hararian 8 years ago

      Was there any complaints when Dandaro was built in the same area?? the celebration centre church ?? sounds more like some is jealous that they didn’t get the kickbacks….

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    Expat 8 years ago

    Los Angeles in the last 20 Yrs has suffered the consequences of this type of development having no longer any ground water to speak of in the central areas! They now have a concerted effort to redevelop all the wet areas and river-lines to natural parks and recreational areas and of course this is going to be paid for by the Taxpayers and the past developers have made their money and are now big players promoting the reversal of the developments!! So when a clown says there is no flora or Fauna and refer to the area as wasteland it just goes to show the complete ignorance of some of our citizens, and they will carry on with this project because at the end of the day, for them its all about the money never about the future.

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    Tongoona 8 years ago

    If the Chinese can defy government, why shouldn’t the Seke residents being threatened with demolishing do the same. If they agree to be moved out, they will be making room for the Chinese licensed to build anywhere. The Chinese are freer in this country than Zimbabweans. To hell with the Chinese.

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    Mofire 8 years ago

    Please we are lucky under any circumstances to get any investment at all. This is going to give Borrowdale 4000 jobs and not have the area subject to sky high shop and office rack renting. The place was checked out by the leading Prof in the field of wetlands from Cape town who said there is no wetland there after doing exhaustive tests and drilling. The guy who is building Mr McCormick is a twice awarded conservationist who is unlikely to want to ruin his name. Now let me let you in on the real reasons and they are that many in the area dont want you to have cheap rent for shops or offices because they like squeezing every one of your hard earned cents out of you and they will loose a lot of money if this development goes ahead.