Local authorities, companies flout environmental laws

via Local authorities, companies flout environmental laws – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 16, 2015

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) has said while the country has good environmental laws, it faces challenges in enforcing the legislation resulting in people losing lives in open pit mines and chemical contamination of the environment.


Zela director Shamiso Mtisi yesterday appeared before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights chaired by Michael Nyambuya where he spoke about enforcement of environmental rights in the country.

“Environmental laws and standards have not been respected and complied with by actors like mining companies and local authorities resulting in breach of human rights and cases of challenges in reporting cases to the courts due to fear instilled by players, for example, in the diamond sector,” Mtisi said.

“There is also resistance by the private sector and State-owned companies to comply with environmental standards and environmental impact assessments which include coming up with measures to address the likely impact of projects to the community.”

He also said mining operations had left deep, wide pits citing Zimasco mining operations which saw, livestock and people sustaining injuries after falling in.

“In 2012 the body of a child, Asar Mpofu, was found in the pits, and a man, Fortune Siziba from Zvishavane, is now blind after he fell into a disused mine pit. So, mining companies in the majority of cases are not rehabilitating the environment,” Mtisi said.
Mtisi said in Mutoko granite mining companies had been operating for more than 40 years, but communities there did not recoup any benefits despite heavy-duty lorries getting granite stones every day.

“There are a lot of gas emissions, loss of places of cultural significance, vibrations are causing cracks at schools and there is siltation of rivers. At Arda Transau, 474 families were affected by relocation and water supplies were contaminated and taps are dry resulting in people now fetching water from shallow wells at Odzi River,” Mtisi said.

“This poses health dangers to children and women. People have also asked when they could have title deeds for their houses. At places like Save Valley there are human and wildlife conflicts where lions, hyenas and other dangerous animals along Save River are causing havoc to villagers in Chipinge, Buhera and nearby areas and people have lost livestock and vegetation.”

Mtisi said in Chisumbanje, ethanol production by Green Fuel had resulted in relocation of families which caused disputes over boundaries and water pollution which was hazardous to the lives of villagers.

He said there was too much contamination of Save and Odzi rivers and his organisation had reported some of the serious cases to the courts.

In urban areas, Mtisi said there were serious environmental violations in terms of poor service delivery while most companies failed to adhere to the Environmental Management Act which stipulates that companies rehabilitate the environment and provide environmental impact assessments.