Businessman appeals to minister over project

HARARE - Environment minister Francis Nhema is embroiled in a legal tussle with businessman Douglas Makonese after the Environment Management Authority (Ema) controversially stopped an eco-tourism project on the shores of Mazoe Dam.

In his founding affidavit Makonese, through his lawyers Scanlen and Holderness, cites Nhema as the first respondent while Ema, which cancelled the multi-million project that had been approved by Mazowe District Council, is the second respondent.

Last year after having ploughed millions of dollars in the project through the construction of a fuel station and a food court, Makonese received an order from Ema that his fuel station was too close to a water source.

But Makonese argues that the fuel station is 270 metres from the dam a distance “far greater than the internationally recommended distance of only 100m”.

 As a result Makonese says he is “bleeding” and is taking issue with the minister who is supposed to offer recourse as he administers environment laws.

“I respectively seek an order directing the minister to consider my appeal, to make his decision and to hand down his judgement within seven days,” argues Makonese.

“I am suffering immensely. When Ema stopped my project I had already put up infrastructure to the value of nearly $1 million. Since then, everything has been at a standstill. Structures are beginning to deteriorate. The second respondent (Ema) will not permit any form of activity on the site, even mere maintenance work.”

The million-dollar project now in limbo had received thumbs-up from the local community, the ministry of Transport and even that of Ema inspectors, he said.

“I expected the minister to deal with my appeal expeditiously especially given the merits of the case clearly staked overwhelmingly in my favour,” he said.

In August last year, Ema issued Makonese with an order to stop construction work with respect to the service station. Ema condemned the project on the basis that it was too close to Mazoe Dam, prompting Makonese to appeal to the minister.

Despite having written twice to Nhema seeking recourse,  Makonese is still to get a formal reply.

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