By Daniel Chigundu
DESPITE having clear environmental laws, Zimbabwe has failed dismally to prevent environmental degradation and pollution.
As a result, there is rampant burning of forests, massive littering, uncoordinated digging of mining pits, careless cutting down of trees and development on wetlands among many others.
To make matters worse, government agencies tasked with protecting the environment have also found comfortable seats among the crowds in the grandstands.
However, speaking in the National Assembly during a debate on the motion on the protection of plantations, Chegutu West legislator Dexter Nduna blamed corrupt environmental technicians for the environmental crimes happening in the country.
“What is a challenge in our society is not the lack of law but it is the implementation of those laws. You will find that the environment technicians who are tasked with policing our environment are going around doing it for their own personal benefits as opposed to national interest and benefit.
“You will find that these environmentalists will turn a blind eye completely to issues to do with nationhood and will only turn an eye to where they can benefit and they want to get what they can and can what they get. This is called corruption and as long as we do not address this cancer of corruption we will not achieve the Vision 2030 which is espoused in His Excellency’s statement for a middle-income economy come 2030.
“So, the issue of corruption within the environmentalists needs to be nipped in the bud so that they can implement what is enshrined in the laws. There is no death of the law but the issue of implementation,” he said.
Institutions such as the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority who have charge over the environment have always complained of lack of capacity to discharge their duties.
In previous years the government was not allocating funding to these institutions thereby constraining their operations, however, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in his 2019 budget has allocated them some funds.
Honourable Nduna suggests that government should resource EMA and Zimparks from the benefits arising from the utilisation of environmental resources.
“…My suggestion is that let us resource them arising from the economic benefits that are derived from the sale of our timber from those plantations.
“Let us have the Minister of Finance ring-fence that money; put it into the Central Revenue Fund but after accounting for it, he should get it back to Manicaland so that that money can be used to police the environment by the environmentalists,” he said.
Contributing to the same motion, Proportional Representation Member Joyce Makonya said it was disappointing that people are burning forests in search of mice while others to clear their fields.
“In Rusitu, it is a mountainous area and the purpose of those trees is to curb soil erosion but they are burning the forests because they want to plough maize. Some of them are destroying the forests looking for mice.
“Madam Speaker, EMA should do something about this issue. EMA is a toothless dog when it comes to the burning of forests, even the police. If there were stiff penalties for people who cause veld fires, I do not think people would continue burning forests.
“We have not come across someone who has been tried for causing veld fires. In veld fires, people lose their lives; wild animals are destroyed as well just because people would want to get mice,” she said.
Kambuzuma legislator Willias Madzimure said “Madam Speaker, if you travel to a place where timber is supposed to be grown, you find that even the small animals like rabbits are not there because they have been finished by people.
“This is what has happened. Let us come to the solutions. The solution is that we should grow plants. For trees to be grown there should be a rule and demarcation of where plantations start and you grow,” he said.–