Environmental Management amendment Bill in final consultation stage
Harare(New Ziana)-Amendments to be made to the Environmental Management Act should make it a progressive piece of legislation for protecting the environment in an era of envisaged high economic growth, a cabinet Minister said on Monday.
In a speech read on his behalf by his deputy Barbra Rwodzi, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu said the need to align it with the Constitution and to move with current trends in managing the environment was necessitating the review of the Environmental Management Act.
The speech was read at a workshop the Ministry organised to get proposals from stakeholders on amendments to the Act.
“The review of the Environmental Management Act (EM Act) has been necessitated by two key developments, namely the need to align it to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, and secondly to update it in line with modern trends in environmental management, bearing in mind that the EMA Act was enacted in 2002, which is almost two decades ago,” said Ndlovu.
“Further, the rapidly changing environmental governance landscapes and practices including the need to address climate change impacts have necessitated the need for the EMA Act review.”
Ndhlovu said in addition to the principles of environmental stewardship, the EM stakeholders should also critically examine whether the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) as an institution, was still structurally suitable, and adequately empowered legally to play the role of an efficient and effective regulator.
“Related to the above is also the financing of the regulatory processes and EMA as an institution, given the current international trends and the international community’s attention to sustainable environmental management. Given the critical importance of prudent environmental stewardship, the need for a well-resourced regulator becomes paramount,” he said.
He said the review was coming at a time when there were notable environmental pressures in Zimbabwe, including the encroachment onto wetlands in both rural and urban areas, a proliferation of illegal dump sites, poor waste management practices and pollution of river systems.
“We therefore need to critically assess if the EMA Act, as it stands, adequately addresses these ills,” he said.
“As you may all know, poor waste management had gotten so bad that Government instituted the National Clean-Up Campaign.”
As the review was taking place, Ndlovu said there was need to assess laws and by-laws that govern the allocation and development of land within urban areas to ensure it was suitable for the purpose for which it was being allocated.
“The current lack of synchronization of the various pieces of legislation has partly given room to some disorder, especially in the urban centres,” he said.
Ndlovu also noted with concern the rampant land degradation and pollution which was taking place in most rural provinces due to illegal mining.
“Illegal miners are moving from one place to another leaving a trail of land degradation as well as water and air pollution due to the usage of chemicals,” he said.
The amended Environmental Management Act should be able to come up with solution-based measures and failure to do that would mean that the country was accumulating an environmental debt for future generations, he said.