A Ukranian company, Augur Investments, is said to be considering building a multi-purpose business complex on land which activists say is unsuitable for such a project because it is a wetland.
“We objected to the change of use of that wetland last year and we are worried that these people have decided to defy that,” Dorothy Wakeling of the Conservation Society of Monovale said.
“Many people, including residents and officials at neighbouring Dandaro Retirement Village, registered their objection back then.
“This is madness; as a country, we should keep these wetlands safe as they are good for our rivers especially considering our dry weather.”
An official at Dandaro said they were also disappointed by the planned construction of a complex they understand will host a hospital, hotels and cinemas.
A council official said the City Fathers objected to the intended change of use because the wetland is the source of Gwebi River.
“As council, we have said that land shall remain earmarked for recreational purposes and we do not intend to approve the change of its land-use,” the source said.
“A full council meeting tasked an investigations committee to probe the acquisition of that piece of land which it feels was improperly done.
“The papers we have seen made us suspicious because the developer shares an address with Harvest Net Investments, which we know as belonging to Local Government, Urban and Rural Development minister Ignatius Chombo.”
In an email response to questions, Augur’s managing director, Mike van Blerk, through his assistant Kerry Stubbs confirmed that a project is under consideration by his company and they would abide by the country’s laws in pursuing their interests.
He would not say what project they intended to carry out and distanced his company from Chombo and Harvest Net.
Harare mayor Muchadei Ma-sunda said he suspects the people seeking to develop the land were merely re-submitting their proposal with the hope of overcoming the objections raised earlier.
He said this was allowed and those with objections can still raise them. Masunda said the city’s plan clearly indicates what type of development is expected at each given area.
However, he said a developer is allowed to seek to change the land use.
Activists last week asked Environment and Natural Resources Management minister, Francis Nhema to help them stop the exploitation of the Borrowdale Vlei.
The environmentalists have in the past opposed projects by businessman Phillip Chiyangwa and a local commercial bank.