Forget the environment, we need hotels
A government minister recently dismissed as trivial the call to preserve
wetlands, urging instead that the natural environment should be exploited to
by Tonderayi Matonho
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi. Tourism and
Hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi.
At a recent media briefing, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister,
Walter Mzembi, told journalists that wetlands would not bring development to
He was referring to the ongoing debate around the construction by a Chinese
company of a hotel in a wetland next to the National Sports Stadium in
Harare. Environmentalists are opposed to the building of the hotel, arguing
that the wetland should be preserved to improve underground water flows.
The area where the Chinese have been awarded a tender to build the hotel is
part of the Conservation Society of Monavale (Cosmo) Project and is a
seasonally partially flooded wetland with pristine ecosystems.
“This area is known worldwide in ornithological circles as an important
breeding ground for five of the rarest Southern African Bird species, in
particular the secretive migrant rails and crakes which find the vlei’s
inundated fine summer grasses an ideal nesting habitat,” said Toga Fakarayi
of Birdlife Zimbabwe.
Joseph Tasosa, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe National Environment
Trust, said building on the wetland would disturb the ecosystem - killing
organisms, including locusts and lizards.
“It’s a contentious issue for other people to worry about locusts and
lizards. Since when did locusts and lizards take precedence over a country’s
development,” said Mzembi, adding that China and Zimbabwe had signed a
Preferred Destination Access Agreement that would see the Chinese promoting
tourist visits to this country.