Parly challenged to protect wetlands

A CROSS section of Harare residents have challenged Parliament to review the process of issuance of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports before developments can be authorized especially on wetlands.

This came out today, March 5, 2017 during a presentation by members of the Kambuzuma Local Environment Action Plan (LEAP) (who are organized under the banner of the Blue Agenda) before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water and Climate

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water and Climate is currently being chaired by Honorable Walter Kanhanga.

The meeting between the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and the Blue Agenda members followed a petition presented to Parliament in October 2017 over the rampant destruction of wetlands in Kambuzuma.

The residents were moved after the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) approved construction of a fuel station at Stand Number 2907, Section 2, Kambuzuma Township which is a wetland.

EMA claimed they issued the EIA following wider consultations with residents as stipulated by law, a claim which the Kambuzuma residents vehemently denied. The Kambuzuma residents prayed that Parliament should cancel the EIA certificate for the filling station.

During their presentations before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, the Blue Agenda members said the process leading to the issuance of EIA certificates was seriously flawed and leading to wetlands destruction in Harare.

The Blue Agenda members also said there was urgent need to regazzette the wetland map of Harare as this would assist in developing a master plan for the city.

Blue Agenda Secretary, David Sibanda said, “You cannot entrust a developer to engage a consultant to determine whether or not to build on a particular piece of land. That is tantamount to self help and actually leads to corrupt allocation of EIA certificates. At the present moment, EMA cannot be entrusted to produce credible EIA certificates.”

It was also presented before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee that urban agriculture was also leading to wetlands destruction in Harare.

The Blue Agenda Members also called upon Parliamentarians to prioritize the setting up of a specialized court on environmental issues saying this would go a long way in protecting the environment through proper implementation of the law.

There was concern from the residents that currently, the supremacy of the Environmental Management Act was being ignored.

The Blue Agenda members also raised the red flag and told parliamentarians that the continued destruction of wetlands in Harare will result in acute water shortages hence the need to urgently act and save wetlands which are the major source of water for Harare after run off.

Below is the Blue Agenda’s Plea and Prayer made before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee;

  • That the responsible Minister or the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) must cancel the Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate for the filling station located at Stand Number 2907, Section 2, Kambuzuma Township.
  • Review of the procedures in the issuance of EIA certificates. The current framework where the fee charged by the consultant is paid by the developer creates conflict of interest for the consultant.
  • Request for an annual report from the responsible Minister as provided for in Section 24 of the Environmental Management Act
  • Request for submission of policies and priorities for the protection of the environment from the National Environment Council
  • Push for the gazzetting of the Harare Wetland map (as a Statutory Instrument) so that development in the capital is socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. In this regard, the residents said that environmental protection must take precedence over development in order to ensure sustainable development.
  • Harare’s Master Plan and Local Environmental Plan must be revisited as a way of ensuring protection of wetlands by ensuring that no developments take place on the water sources.
  • No EIAs should be issued on wetlands. Wetlands should be kept intact
  • Establishment of an Environmental Court whose mandate is to prosecute offenders

The Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment acknowledged the submissions from the Blue Agenda members and said that after deliberations, they will produce a report based on the submissions from the Kambuzuma residents.

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