Police and other law enforcement agents have been found wanting in bringing to book those contravening environmental laws.
This emerged during the weekend when the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy toured parts of the Great Dyke to investigate chrome mining activities in Guruve, Zvishavane and parts of Shurugwi.
Committee members quizzed the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), rural district councils and the police over their failure to ensure those who dug in search of chrome were made accountable by rehabilitating the environment they left severely defaced.
Legislators were dismayed by deep pits which were left open, pollution at rivers by Chinese miners, local small-claim holders and big chrome giants like Zimasco and Zim Alloys.
“There seems to be a problem between EMA and the police in that EMA issues out tickets for environmental offences, but the police do not seem to bring those people to book,” said committee chairperson Edward Chindori-Chininga.
“The Chinese and other small companies are getting into Zimasco and Zim Alloys chrome claims and it seems they are not being arrested for leaving the pits open.”
But, a police representative, Superintendent Robert Mugazambi, said it was difficult to bring the unlicensed Chinese and small-claim holders to book because they shifted blame on each other.
“EMA summons the company responsible to do rehabilitation of the environment but when a docket is given to the Chinese they refer us to the claim holder, and the claim holder likewise refers us to the big companies that own the claims, Zimasco and Zim Alloys,” said Mugazambi.
He said the problem was the legislation on environment and mining and urged the MPs to revamp the Mines and Minerals Act to include stiff penalties for environmental offenders.
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association director Mutuso Dhliwayo who was also part of the tour said it was imperative for police to be trained in environmental issues so that they appreciate the seriousness of environmental damage by miners.