Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Forget the environment, we need hotels

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 
boost tourism.
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.


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