The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has come under fire from
Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) following the death of 23
artisanal miners who were trapped by water inside shafts.
The artisanal miners died after water from a collapsed dam wall flooded their shafts in Battlefields area, Mashonaland West Province. CNRG sent their condolences and regret over the fatality.
Speaking through their communications officer Simiso Mlevu Thursday, CNRG said EMA has over the years been accused by communities and workers of working in cahoots with miners and as a result negating its constitutional mandate which is the protection of the environment among other responsibilities.
“There are a number of mines that are just abandoned in Zimbabwe when the
mineral runs out and EMA has done nothing to hold the responsible parties to account. Section 114 of the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:17)
subsection 3 (n) mandates the agency to issue an order in respect of the
rehabilitation of a mining site.
“Environmental reclamation or rehabilitation once a mine is closed is adequately covered by the country’s statutes. However, EMA as a regulatory body is either sleeping on duty or is, for the reasons known to themselves, allowing impunity
to continue at the expense of people’s lives and the environment.,” said Mlevu in a statement.
She added that EMA is supposed to carry out bi-annual environmental audits to ensure that all projects being implemented are in compliance with the regulations and the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment reports which miners develop prior to commencing their projects.
“Environmental Impact assessment is “an evaluation of a project to determine its impact on the environment and human health and to set out the required environmental monitoring and management procedures and plans”.
“An EIA thus ensures that environmental, economic and social pillars are
mainstreamed into the projects. Had EMA been effectively monitoring the
projects and undertaking audits, environmental damage would have been reduced,” she added.
CNRG called on the government of Zimbabwe to ensure statutory bodies
stick to their mandate.