BY METHEMBE SIBANDA/CATHERINE MUCHIRI
CIVIC society organisations (CSOs) have urged government to quickly finalise amendments to the Mines and Minerals Bill, and set up environmental courts to enforce rehabilitation of the environment after mining activities.
The calls came as the world celebrated World Environmental Day on Sunday.
In a statement, Action Aid Zimbabwe (AAZ) said mining activities were negatively affecting surrounding communities resulting in poverty and displacements.
“Given the impact mining activities have on the environment and local communities’ livelihoods, government should speed up the finalisation of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill which will reverse the damages made by mining corporates through the creation of an environmental rehabilitation fund that will be used to rehabilitate the environmental damage and reduce impacts of mining activities on local communities” the AAZ statement read.
“The current Mines and Mineral Act gives corporations more rights to land than to smallholder farmers and there has always been a perpetual conflict between farmers and miners caused by legal inconsistencies.”
AAZ also said mining ventures in the country should plough back to the community and support women, youth and people living with disability as well as other vulnerable groups.
In another statement, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) recommended the establishment and operationalisation of specialised environmental courts and tribunals to ensure speedy remedies to any threats to the environment.
“Environmental problems related to loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation, pollution, and climate change, are environmental crimes that affect and undermine the realisation of environmental rights that are recognised and protected under section 73 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. There are environmental crimes which can be handled better through specialised courts and tribunals,” Zela said.
“Ecosystem degradation affects the well-being of an estimated 3,2 billion, or 40% of the world’s population. Without deliberate and targeted interventions to arrest the ecosystem degradation, our existence on planet earth will become threatened.”
Zela added that while Zimbabwe had sound laws and policies to address environmental issues, the major problem was weak enforcement of the laws and policies.
The Zimbabwe Women against Corruption Trust said corruption was the main driver of deforestation and uncontrolled land degradation.