Sunday 11 September 2022


A company linked to one of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sons has embarked on a multi-million dollar housing project at a wetland in Harare’s Belvedere suburb without the requite approvals from the Environment Management Authority (EMA), investigations have revealed.

Kudakwashe David Mnangagwa is part of the directors of a company that is forging ahead with a project in the ecologically sensitive area without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Investigations carried out with support from Information for Development Trust, a non-profit media organisation supporting independent investigative journalism, also revealed that the project has not been given the go-ahead by the Harare City Council.

The company, Brickstone Builder’s Contractors operating as Brickstone Housing Project, reportedly intends to establish over 200 upmarket housing units on the site, which was declared a wetland by EMA, according to a report seen by this publication.

The planned housing project sits on an estimated 11 hectares.

The directors are likely to make, in excess of US$5 million as the stands, which average 600 square metres are being sold at prices ranging from US$35 to US$45 per square metre, investigations established.

According to the report, Brickstone Housing Project applied for a housing development permit from EMA early this year, but it was turned down. It was also barred from doing any civil works on the land.

The company has, however, defied EMA and in May it went on to open roads, leading to an outcry from Belvedere residents and environmental activists.

The Standard had to carry out an investigation into the matter and search for the directors of the company after being tipped by concerned residents about the conflict.

The particulars of the company directors, according to the documents seen by this publication revealed that one of them is Kudakwashe.

The documents show that the company was founded by little-known MacKenzie Macheka and Chester Macheka on July 16 in 1998.

Kudakwashe and three others, Spencer Macheka, a relative of the founders, and two Zanu PF activists identified as Lilian Chitanda and Enison Hwingwiri — who is the company secretary — were incorporated on the same day on July 20, 2021.

This means that Kudakwashe was roped in well after the formation of the company.

Even though information on his professional life is scant, Kudakwashe describes himself on his LinkedIn account as a lawyer who has “gained extensive knowledge from studying (law) around the world”, the USA, UK and Zimbabwe included.

But other online accounts indicated that he holds a BSc in Business Administration obtained from Drake University in Iowa, USA.

He is the executive director of a company called Flame Lily Venture Capital, which, according to his LinkedIn account, is “a private equity investment and advisory firm primarily focused on investing in financial services, mining, real estate and construction within Zimbabwe and the Southern Africa region”.

A Harare lawyer, Farai Chauke, once alleged to a Chiredzi magistrate that Kudakwashe was involved in wildlife poaching in the Nyangambe area in the Save valley conservancy.

Kudakwashe, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the president and has been pictured with other Mnangagwa siblings, is from a mother whose identity could not be immediately established.

He is neither son to Auxillia, the first lady, nor Mnangagwa’s late first wife, Jane Matarise.

The Architect Magazine says Kudakwashe built a luxurious house in an unnamed part of Harare this year and a picture accompanying the brief listing shows massive opulence on the property.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima also appointed him to the National Building Society board.

Kudakwashe has also tried his hand in politics after he submitted his curriculum vitae to contest for a top post at the Zanu PF youth national conference held four months ago, but failed to make it.

EMA declares project illegal

According to the EMA report which accompanied a ticket and prohibition order seen by this publication, Brickstone Housing Project applied for a prospect for a housing development on February 28, but the Agency turned it down on March 14 based on ecological assessments of the land, which had been done in January prior to the application which designated the land as 100% wetland.

Kudakwashe’s company defied EMA and started opening roads, which culminated in a raid by the Agency on May 20 and the inspectors found  that there was development taking place.

The company was then fined $500 000, which is a level 14 fine according to the EMA fines schedule and also issued with a prohibition order to cease operations with immediate effect.

“On the 20th of May 2022 an EIA inspection was conducted in Belvedere in response to a complaint that development was occurring on a wetland adjacent to HIT (Harare Institute of Technology) A team comprising, Mr Muguzva inspected the affected site,” read the prohibition order by EMA.

“Upon inspection the team established that Brickstone Housing Project submitted a prospect for a housing development on 28 February 2022.

“Comments rejecting the project were sent on 14 March 2022 based on an ecological assessment that was conducted on 23 January, which indicated that the area is 100% wetland. Representatives of the project were Polite Captain.

“The site had been cleared of the vegetation for the purpose of constructing roads, opening of roads was in progress and the site is 100% wetland.

“A ticket was issued of level 14 for doing a prescribed project without an EIA and an order was given to stop all activities in the area,” states the order.

EMA said if the developer continued to defy the environment protection order, a docket will be opened for court proceedings.

“The Agency would like to urge all developers to consult EMA before any development takes place,” it added.

“The National Wetland Policy and National Wetland Guidelines give guidance to how wetlands are utilised. The National Development Strategy (NDS 1) clearly states that there should be sustainable utilisation of wetlands and encourages implementation of soft projects such as recreational parks.

“So what is happening is uncalled for and is wanton break down of the law.”

Harare City Council said it was not aware of the project.

“The city did not allocate the land in question and the policy on wetlands is clear, it does not allow development on wetlands,” council said.

“The city applies to EMA for EIA certificate. If it's true what the company is doing is illegal and should stop forthwith.

“The law is very clear about developments in wetlands and they should diligently follow due process or the long arm of the law will catch up with them.”

“Development control under the director of works is dealing with the matter to stop the illegal development.”

Harare Wetlands Trust director, Celestino Chari said the Brickstone Housing Project should have a valid EIA certificate to carry out developments in the area as stipulated by the law.

“The company should have a valid EIA certificate and a development permit from council and anything outside that is illegal and council should apply the necessary legislation to repossess the land and reclaim it,” Chari said.

He said government should establish environmental courts to deal with what he termed “the current mess” in wetlands or at least establish a commission to investigate and recommend actions to be considered.

“An enabling legislation to pave way for compensating private ownership in wetlands should be enacted urgently,” Chari added.

“We have over 25 cases in the courts over illegal developments in wetlands and we created a watchdog and network of residents and community based groups to oversee illegal developments in the city.

“We are also lobbying for the review of the wetlands guidelines and the review of the EMA Act so that it responds to the current trends.

“We are also lobbying government to create a fund to compensate people settled in wetlands.”

Chari said there was need for EMA to urgently gazette wetlands as ecological sensitive areas to stop any developments and council should pass a resolution to stop any allocations of land in wetlands.

“Yes we are working with them on the development of environmental action plans and continuously capacitating the different relevant committees in council,” he said.

“We also have a draft implementation plan with council on the management of wetlands and we also encouraging the city to come up with a wetlands policy and publish the land bank for transparency.

“A one stop shop should be immediately established to scrutinise all developments in wetlands.”

A visit to the sight revealed that Brickstone Housing Project is continuing with development, which involves pegging of stands and opening of roads and also construction sites.

Some of the stands are pegged under Zesa Holdings power pylons and with some in very swampy areas.

The workforce on the ground was very hostile and could not entertain any questions.

They repeatedly advised the news crew to talk to ‘Mudhara’, if they wanted some answers on the project, but did not mention who this Mudhara was.

Efforts to get a comment from the Macheka siblings and Hwingwiri hit a snag as their numbers were continuously unavailable.

Kudakwashe was not answering calls.

It was also the same with the company secretary Chitanda, who was also not answering calls.

A research paper by HWT released in October 2021 showed that Harare wetlands were dwindling mainly due to housing developments.

Section 97 and 113 of the Environmental Management Act requires an EIA certificate for any infrastructural development on wetlands.

To get the certificate an EIA consultant prepares a prospectus and a report which assesses the environmental impact of the proposed project and must consult with affected stakeholders.

The land must also be zoned for residential or commercial use and one also need a development permit from the council under the Regional Town and Country Planning Act.

Zimbabwe is part to the International Convention for the Protection of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) which requires the protection of Ramsar Sites in Zimbabwe we have seven including the  Victoria Falls and even urban ones like Monavale Vlei and establishment of nature reserves on wetlands.   Standard


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