Blatant environmental injustice in Kuwadzana: Council workers inexplicably chop down trees


HARARE – As if the scant service delivery was not enough indignity, the City of Harare has added salt to the wound with incessant, unexplained cutting down of trees in and around Kuwadzana. 

Council workers chop down trees in Kuwadzana, City of Harare, Kuwadzana Press,
Focusing on the wrong things — Instead of collecting trash, workers from the Harare City Council are contributing to environmental degradation by felling trees for unspecified reasons

In 2023, workers from the City of Harare cut down three trees that were providing water catchment and ground cover to roughly two-hundred square metres of land. 

When confronted by community members, one of them simply answered, " there is a funeral and we need firewood." 

Council workers chop down trees in Kuwadzana, City of Harare, Kuwadzana Press,
This stump shows just how long workers from the Harare City Council have been engaging in these environmental injustices 

This year, they've continued on their rampage despite outcries from community members. 

They have gotten to the extent of hiding behind their superiors in carrying out their deeds, saying, "we are just carrying out orders from the top."

Apparently the musawu trees that they cut down at Corner 1st and 210st Street "have matured", and "deserve to be cut down, especially as they are becoming an obstruction to traffic."

Council workers chop down trees in Kuwadzana, City of Harare, Kuwadzana Press,
Wasteful — Trees are just cut down and left to dry out

We spoke to one of the residents of Kuwadzana, Mr Duri, who gave his comments on the matter. 

"These trees that are being cut down are very young, and they were making up part of a beautiful tree line in our road. 

"They pose no threat to people and vehicles alike. We don't know why they're being cut down," he said. 

If the trees are truly an obstruction, why doesn't the City of Harare plant new trees to replace the ones they are chopping down, as they have done in Africa Unity Square and Harare Gardens? 

Aren't there other "old trees that are obstructing traffic" in the affluent Northern suburbs to also chop down? 

When reached for comment, the District Officer for Kuwadzana, Mrs Chigocha, said she was not aware of the recent fellings, although she suggested that they must have been a good reason for doing so. 

Council workers chop down trees in Kuwadzana, City of Harare, Kuwadzana Press,

Why It Matters

You might think this is a classic case of 'making a mountain out of a molehill', but the far-reaching effects of deforestation on the urban landscape and environment should not be ignored. 

When trees are cut down without replacing in high density suburbs like Kuwadzana, it's the residents who bear the brunt.

This month, temperatures have soared to the thirties. Yet, residents in the Northern surburbs are shaded from the heat while we are being scorched in the flat ground and choked by the red dust.

The difference lies in tree density.

Trees perform micro-climatic functions such as cooling the environment and carbon sequestration. 

They also reduce air and noise pollution, block dust particles from entering homes by trapping them with their leaves. Trees also help to purify underground water. High-density areas such as Kuwadzana seldom receive tap water such that there's heavy reliance on borehole water.

This act of cutting down trees for no clear reason and without replacing them is a serious violation of environmental justice. 

It is a threat to public health and exacerbates health related income inequalities.

We urge the city's officials to urgently address this injustice, as it is prejudicing residents today, and robbing our children of a brighter future. 

*The Zimbabwe Sphere is engaged in a content-sharing partnership with Kuwadzana Press. In being the heartbeat of communities across Zimbabwe, we have collaborated with Kuwadzana's leading community media outlet to document the stories that matter to the residents of Kuwadzana and what this means for the world. 

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