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EMA Director General Faces Charges of Abusing Office in Wetland Development Case

EMA Director General Faces Charges of Abusing Office in Wetland Development Case

The director general of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA),Aaron Chigona, appeared in court on a criminal abuse of office charge, accused of approving the construction of cluster houses on a wetland in Borrowdale West without adhering to due procedures.

The court granted Chigona bail of US$300, and his next appearance is scheduled for February 28.

Chigona allegedly directed his subordinates to review EMA guidelines, certifying that an area measuring 1.5773 and 23.9684 hectares was suitable for housing development, despite a prior rejection of the same spot. The land was purportedly corruptly offered to Borrowdale Investments (Pvt) Ltd by Harare City Council officials without following proper procedures.

The state contends that on July 26, 2021, Liangming Jin, representing Borrowdale Investments, submitted an application for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to EMA for the development of cluster houses on stand numbers 40001 and 40072 in Borrowdale West.

In October 2021, the EMA director of environmental protection informed Borrowdale Investments in writing that the proposed project area was within a wetland, with irreversible biophysical and socio-economic implications, leading to the rejection of the application. Borrowdale Investments was advised to appeal against the decision.

Allegedly, Chigona, after noting the appeal, initiated a site ecological re-assessment in November and December 2021. Despite earlier rejection, Chigona instructed Armstrong Moyo and Leon Mutungamiri, officers from EMA Harare Provincial Office, to review the guidelines and grant EIAs to Borrowdale Investments.

On August 2, 2022, Chigona is accused of granting an EIA certificate, disregarding the earlier appeal process. The state asserts that by doing so, Chigona failed to uphold compliance with the Environmental Management Agency Act Chapter 20:27.

 

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