Zimbabwe: “Flawed environmental laws, a danger for future generations”

The Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) says the failure of environmental laws poses a great risk to future generations if not implemented and followed.

ZELA’s program manager, Nyaradzo Mutonhori, told 263Chat on the sidelines of a media sensitization and training meeting on “Media as Partners in Natural Resource Governance in Zimbabwe” that commercial entities have an obligation to respect communities and comply with environmental laws as stipulated by the constitution, the failure of which would prove problematic for future generations who will bear the burden of a degraded environment.

“When it comes to our laws, we think there are gaps that need to be filled in terms of a lasting legacy for future generations. We are looking at having, sometimes, very strict provisions in the law, but there there is no implementation or application.

“Look at the consultation process on environmental impact assessment where communities are supposed to be consulted and provide input and influence decisions on the use of these natural resources, we have these provisions in the law, but when we let’s look at what is happening on the ground, we still have a lot of complaints from communities who either did not attend or did not know that the meeting they were attending is an EIA meeting,” noted Mutonhori.

Community participation, Mutonhori added, remains key to ensuring companies are vetted, but noted with concern the slow process of implementing key mining provisions such as the Mines and Minerals Bill.

“When you look at the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, it has been pending for many years and we are calling for greater community participation and access to information on mining contracts… So we face many obstacles and there are many gaps.

“What we also have is that once a company gets an EIA before they start operating, there’s no provision that then says after three years, and they assess and update their EIA So there are strong provisions that are there but are not being implemented, and then we have gaps in terms of the law. We also have delays in developing laws aligned with the constitution” , she said.

Mutonhori further stated the need for communities to engage the government to ensure that companies comply with set-aside laws.

Additionally, she added that communities and businesses need to be aware that environmental damage has long-term effects on the country’s agriculture.

“We need communities to be able to work with government and the Environment Management Agency (EMA) to monitor environmental compliance. If we don’t do this, we will leave a legacy of environmental degradation and that will affect sustainability because we are still a We need to look at how mining and agriculture can complement each other,” she said.

Meanwhile, in a statement, ZELA recently slammed Constitutional Amendment No. 2 and its impact on the environment.

The association noted that the amendment requires careful media scrutiny to ensure that aspects of transparency and accountability are not thrown out the window.

ZELA said that Section 23 of the Constitution Amendment Bill (No. 2), which seeks to amend Section 327(3) of the Constitution, gives the executive the exclusive power to approve loan agreements with foreign non-state institutions or entities without being submitted to Parliament. and public scrutiny.

ZELA noted that the amendments violate Article 119 of the Constitution, which provides for Parliament to play its role in promoting democratic governance.

“This can also apply to any government guarantee imposing financial obligations on the state. The consequences are dramatic.

“It also means that the Government of Zimbabwe can enter into a loan agreement with Credit Suisse, Export-Import Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China or African Export-Import Bank without parliamentary approval since their membership does not include two or more independent states,” the statement read.