HCC settles desperate home seekers under Zesa pylons, condemns them to life-threatening diseases

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Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba

HARARE City Council (HCC) recently allocated desperate home seekers residential stands right underneath Zesa pylons in the new sprawling settlement of Kuwadzana posing a health hazard, Zim Morning Post can report.

The residential area is located on a wetland immediately outside Kuwadzana 5 and 7.

The controversial residential area sits on a vlei, with Kuwadzana residents often questioning why HCC turned the swath into a suburb.

“This new settlement, according to sound environmental laws, should not have been set aside as a residential area.

“Besides the practice being unlawful, the implications of such practices impact very negatively on the ecosystem,” said an environmental expert within HCC who did not want to be mentioned.

Local laws, including the 2006 Environmental Management Act and the Environmental Assessment and Ecosystem Protection Regulations of 2007, provide for the protection of wetlands.

Many Harare residents who spoke to this publication were, however, of the opinion that not enough was being done to educate citizens, policymakers, including local and national government authorities on the importance of wetlands and on strengthening mechanisms for their protection.

“Look at how almost every wetland in this area has been turned into either a residential area, business centre or home industry,” said an irate Kuwadzana resident who preferred anonymity.

But what has now angered the residents in this Harare suburb even more is the seeming arrogance of HCC officials to just settle unsuspecting and desperate home seekers in that settlement underneath electricity pylons.

According to one Zesa official, pylons carry very high voltage electricity cables.

“Homes and schools should not be built next to power lines because of grave health risks to children.

“There is clear evidence from research that living near an electricity line could be linked to fatal childhood diseases such as leukaemia, including breast and brain cancer, miscarriage and Alzheimer’s disease in adults,” a medical doctor confided to Zim Morning Post.

Efforts to get a comment from Prosper Chonzi, Director of City Health, was unsuccessful as he was continuously engaged in meetings at the time of writing.

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