BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) and a Hwange resident Fidelis Chuma, have approached the High Court seeking to bar a Chinese mining company from exploring for coal in the vast Hwange National Park.
In an urgent chamber application filed on Sunday, Chuma and Richard Ncube of Zela pleaded with government to stop mining activities, saying these violated the Environmental Management Act.
They cited Zimbabwe Zhongxin Mining Group, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Mines and Mining Development ministry as respondents.
“I seek such an interdict on an urgent basis on the basis that coal mining activities if not immediately prevented, shall damage the heritage national park and will cause turmoil to the lives of both indigenes as well as plants and animal varieties native to Hwange National Park,” Chuma argued in his founding affidavit.
“The fact that the granting of mining rights was done outside the structures of the enabling legislation compounds the existing threat and creates a compelling need for the injunctive relief which applicant jointly seeks.”
“The issuance of the special grant in February 2020 before the environmental impact assessment was in violation of section 97 of the Environmental Management Act, (Chapter 20;27,)therefore, applicants shall file simultaneously with this urgent chamber application for review of third respondent (EMA)’s issuance of a special grant to second respondent in February 2019 before the issuance environmental impact assessment certificate of the project.”
“The park and its wildlife face imminent disruption if not devastation from coal mining activities once exploration and drilling with the attendant water and air pollution commence.”
“Concomitantly, there is acute risk of irreversible ecological degradation including unmitigated loss of vegetation species, reduction of animal habitats of many rare species including black rhino, pangolin, elephant and wild (painted) dogs. Already loss of both human and animal life has occurred as a result of the inevitable emigration from the park by the various animal species fleeing their former habitat,” read the application.
In turn, safari tourism, an ecologically sustainable use of the resources, which is a vital source of income for the local people, will be destroyed as the world largest natural mammal colony shall be ruined.
“Since drilling and other land stripping activities are imminent, the applicants have been prompted to urgently seek this court’s intervention to interdict the first and second respondents from causing ruination of the once pristine Hwange National Park which hitherto, as a specially protected wildlife and heritage site, has been considered for the five nation Kavango Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area.”
The mining company is yet to respond to the application.