But the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) insists that its construction must stop to ensure that a proper environmental impact assessment is carried out.
The agency said it will be approaching Environment and Natural Resources minister, Francis Nhema, to order the construction work to stop.
ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, last week said the outcry over the construction of the hotel on a wetland was largely driven by personal hatred of Chinese people by certain sections of society.
“Zimbabweans look at everything from a political angle,” he said.
“I am convinced that if the investor constructing the hotel was from the United Kingdom, USA or other Western countries, no one would have queried the project. The Chinese are close to Zanu PF and some people are not happy with that.”
Kaseke said some people were speculating that he was bribed by Anjin Investments simply because he was the one who personally invited the company to invest in Zimbabwe.
“That is utter rubbish!” fumed Kaseke, who added that:
“I am not corruptible. I have no regrets because what I am looking for are investors who can come and put up tourism infrastructure in the country. This is what I was mandated to do by President Mugabe who appointed me.”
Kaseke said Anjin bought the land from a private developer and from the Harare City Council which also approved the project with no hassles.
The ZTA boss said over US$300 million will be invested in the new 300-bed hotel. An additional US$580 million would be invested in the construction of a shopping mall adjacent to the hotel.
He said already, over 500 locals were working on the site, while over 3 000 jobs would be created once the hotel and shopping malls have been completed.
“So some people wanted us to sacrifice thousands of jobs and forgo these massive investments in order to protect frogs and 23 trees?” he asked. “Why did they not complain when the National Sports Stadium was built?”
Kaseke claimed that the wetland would still be preserved as the Chinese contractors were using technology which will do minimum damage to the area’s environment. Anjin was also constructing the Zimbabwe Defence College and mining diamonds in Chiadzwa in partnership with the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
EMA said they are now approaching Nhema to issue a ministerial order to effect the stoppage of the project in terms of the Environment Act.
Nhema yet to be approached
Environment minister Francis Nhema said EMA had not approached him over the Belvedere wetland issue.
“I have not received any letter of complaint from any client regarding the issue,” he said yesterday.
“This may mean that discussions are still in progress. I only come in when there is a disagreement and one party makes an appeal to me.”
Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo said there was no way a person or organisation could construct on a piece of land without the relevant approval from authorities.
“We read about EMA’s decisions against various local authorities regarding wetlands but all that hullabaloo has not come here yet,” Chombo said.