Proposed EMA BILL to strengthen sustainable management of environment

By Lavender Chandisareva

THE proposed Environmental Management Amendment Bill is expected to strengthen the sustainable management of the environment across the country.

The rapidly changing environmental governance landscape, in light of climate change, has necessitated the need for a review of the EMA Act to cover a broader spectrum of issues in line with environmental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Stakeholders who attended an EMA Act review workshop in Harare this Monday spoke on the challenges which have necessitated a relook at the law.

“The administration of the Environmental Management Agency Act was not clearly specifying competence, and this process coming up is going to give us more elaborate penalties for offenders and it is now mentioning environmental and social impacts,” a stakeholder who attended the workshop said.

“There are some gaps in the current act on illegal mining, unsafe wetlands and the lack of clarity was a challenge. I think the largest benefits that we are going to get is the definition of standards pertaining rehabilitation and who must do the rehabilitation,” noted another.

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Barbara Rwodzi noted that a holistic approach in assessing the legislation will be key in curbing environmental challenges

“It is my view that as we undertake this review, we need to take a holistic approach to assess laws and by-laws that govern the allocation and development of land within urban areas with a view to ensuring that, any land that is allocated is suitable for the purpose for which it has been allocated. The current lack of synchronisation of the various pieces of legislation has partly given room to some disorder especially in the urban centres,” she said.

The review comes at a time when Zimbabwe is implementing the National Development Strategy One which speaks on the need for sustainable environmental management free from land degradation, hazardous waste pollution and inappropriate land use.

In line with environmental laws, soil conservation works on farms are expected to be implemented within the confines of approved environmental impact assessments by the responsible authority, which in this case is EMA.