Chris Magadza said the Ballantyne Park wetland is a first order tributary of the Umwindisi Stream which is part of the Mazowe catchment area.
He noted that on the Harare map, the wetland is shown with a dam, together with adjacent dams on Blair Park.
Magadza said the wetland was part of the stream complexes that arise within Harare to form part of river systems that drain into the Zambezi River.
Umwindisi forms part of the headwaters of the Nyaguwi, which is the river system of the proposed Kunzvi Dam to supply Harare with water.
“Thus, the Ballantyne Park wetland is in fact a stream, whose use and management would be governed by the provisions of both the Environment Management Act and the Water Act,” Magadza said.
“Ploughing the wetland as Mr Chiyangwa has done is in contravention of the stream bank cultivation prohibitions.
“Disturbing wetland alters their hydrological performance leading to loss of their flow regulation properties, causing excessive runoff and thus groundwater recharges capacity.
“With the now chronic failure of the City of Harare to deliver piped water to parts of the city means that residents now depend on groundwater.
“As the city loses its wetlands to development and urban agriculture, its capacity to store groundwater diminishes.”
Magadza said ploughing and burning of grass on the wetland increases erosion risks, as the early rains run off will not be impeded by groundcover litter.
He further explained that among other important services wetlands provide is pollution removal from street and uncollected rubbish dumps runoff.
“Our studies show that this service is worth tens of millions of dollars annually,” Magadza said.
“As we lose these wetlands, the cost of providing potable water concomitantly increases.”
He said the area also used to support wetland birds whose habitats are rapidly disappearing all over Zimbabwe.
Magadza urged council to stop the developments which he said threatened water conservation and sound environment management.
Harare Mayor Muchadei Masunda said the Ballantyne Park wetland is among other issues to be looked into by a land tribunal that council is yet to set up.
“We have identified eight individuals with strong legal and administrative backgrounds and we will choose five to be members of the tribunal which will be furnished with Warship Dumba and other councillors’ land sales report,” Masunda said.
“Chiyangwa and everyone fingered in the report will appear before this tribunal which is expected to come up with a conclusion in three months.”