Local authorities blast EMA fines

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Urban councils have accused the Environment Management Agency (EMA) of charging them exorbitant penalty fees without ploughing back part of the money towards rehabilitation of some of the cities’ obsolete sewer equipment.

Delegates attending a Zimbabwe Local Government Association workshop in Bulawayo on Saturday said local authorities faced many challenges and the EMA fines worsened their misery.

“We are having a torrid time with EMA who fine us even for veld fires started by drunkards just because the fires broke out within our areas of jurisdiction,” said Kariba town clerk George Makunde.

“Even the garbage which residents throw around becomes a crime committed by the local authorities. EMA does not consider that the country is coming from a serious economic crisis and councils have not yet stabilised to deliver properly,” said Makunde.

He said penalties and fines charged by EMA on councils must be stopped unless the local authorities are recapitalised.

Makunde said ratepayers were failing to pay rates which explained council’s failure to effectively deal with pollution.

Harare chamber secretary Josephine Ncube appealed for the amendment of EMA laws which she said made the EMA director a law unto herself.

“Disputes by EMA must be handled by the Administrative court acting as appeals body and EMA officials must not be immune to prosecutions as is currently happening,” said Ncube.

In 2009, EMA fined Masvingo $9 859, 52, Gwanda $5 040, Norton $4 745, 25, and Hwange $1 402 for pollution-related offences.

In 2010, Kadoma was fined $7 059, Masvingo $4 929,76, Chiredzi $3 900, Mutare $3 540, Gweru $3 000, Bulawayo $2 690, Norton $2 561,48, Hwange $1 402, Beitbridge $1 148, Gwanda $1 130, Kariba $1 010, Marondera $300 and Plumtree $104 for crimes relating to environmental pollution.