By Ndatenda Njanike
RESIDENTS of Mt Pleasant in Harare are up in arms after the city sold a wetland, which is part of the Mt Pleasant sports Club for $26 million to a private property developer.
Wetlands are ecologically sensitive areas and property construction is prohibited as it leads to the decrease in the water table in an area.
However, Mt Pleasant residents are shocked how the local council could sell that land to a property developer and the decision has sparked controversy in the area with the locals demanding a reversal of the deal.
The residents held a crisis meeting this week at the golf course with the local councillor, Jacob Mafume, and town planner, Samuel Nyabeza.
Nyabeza confirmed to the residents the Land had been purchased by a private developer but the deal was to utilise it for recreational purposes.
“The city decided to sell Stand 402 Vainona Township as offered by the City of Harare and as a result, the land was sold to someone else to a private individual for recreational purposes,” he said.
“What this meant was that all the proposals which were happening with respect to housing development got overtaken by this sale and as we speak we do not have proposals for housing on this property.”
Mafume also confirmed to the agitated residents that the land in question had been sold to a private developer, and it was the duty of responsible authorities and the local council to work preserve wetlands.
“Council might have sold the area to these private developers but it’s up to us the residents and all responsible authorities to work together to preserve these wetlands,” he said.
In response after presentations by the two council officials, the residents said they would take the municipality to court if any construction took place at the disputed site.
Meanwhile, a Mt Pleasant Sports Club official said the selling of the piece of the wetland to a private developer was mired in corruption after the club was only given 24 hours to purchase the land for US$2 million.
“They first wrote to the Mt Pleasant Sports Club so that they could exercise their right of first refusal which they could not exercise at the time because they did not have the money,” the sports club president, Ngoni Mudzamire told NewZimbabwe.com.
“City of Harare offered us the stand at US$2 million which was to be paid within a 24-hour deadline. When we failed to raise the US$2 million in 24 hours, the council then sold the property to another developer at a price of $26 million,” he said.
Early this year, residents of Hillside also in Harare successfully petitioned the High Court to block the construction of a wedding venue by an events management company, Glorious All Time Functions on a wetland in the area.