BY SILAS NKALA
MATABELELAND Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has written to the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) complaining about the Environment and Tourism ministry’s failure to release the national environmental plan which it requested in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.
MIHR on June 28, 2021 wrote to Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu demanding the release of the national environmental plan. It wanted to use the plan for its environmental preservation activities.
MIHR co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa yesterday told Southern Eye that it was now more than a month since they requested the plan, which prompted them to lodge a complaint with ZMC.
“We appealed to the Zimbabwe Media Commission regarding issues of access to the national environmental plan. On June 28, we wrote to the Environment ministry and it acknowledged receipt. On July 28, we appealed to ZMC and it responded on July 29,” Maphosa said.
ZMC chief executive officer Tafataona Mahoso advised the MIHR to take the matter to the High Court.
“ZMC acknowledges receipt of your complaint against the Environment, Water and Climate ministry and advises that the draft regulations according to which the commission is supposed to dispose of appeals are still with the office of the Attorney-General and are yet to be published in the Government Gazette.
“Since the principal Act is effective, all appellants are entitled to use it to obtain information from whoever is holding that information. If the holder of the information continues refusing to release it, appellants may approach the High Court for the time being,” he said.
The Environment and Tourism ministry is supposed to develop a national environmental plan in accordance with section 87 of the Environmental Management Act.
“This plan is integral for formulating strategies and measures for the management, protection, restoration and rehabilitation of the environment in Zimbabwe. As MIHR, we are implementing interventions linked to environmental rights and, therefore, we want access to the plan to guide our project design and implementation.
“We also want to disseminate it to the communities as a public environmental document in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, we want the document in order to engage the government, local authorities, and business and ensure accountability on environmental measures as guided by the plan,” Maphosa said.
Ndlovu said he was yet to see the MIHR letter.
“I have not yet seen the petition. It is just that I am working from home, send me the request so that I look at it,” he said.