BY DUDUZILE NDLUKULWANI
GOVERNMENT has been urged to grant the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) arresting powers to enable it to deal with errant firms and individuals.
Speaking at the national wetlands guidelines validation workshop organised by the Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry in Bulawayo yesterday, Billy Mukamuri, a lecturer in the Department of Applied Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe, urged the government to grant EMA arresting powers to ensure sustainable management of wetlands.
“EMA is not in a position to effectively manage wetlands due to the limitations. We are proposing that the government must amend the current environmental Acts and give EMA arresting powers,” Mukamuri said.
The workshop, which was aimed at enlightening stakeholders on the importance of protecting, managing and utilising wetlands for the development of the nation, tackled key policy recommendations on wetlands guidelines implementation processes.
The academia applauded the traditional leadership in Matabeleland for properly managing wetlands.
“We have seen some good practices in Matopo, where the traditional leadership has ensured that the wetlands are kept intact. There is need for us to scale-up such practices,” he said.
“Damages on wetlands will have a serious impact. As a result, there is need to conserve them,” Matobo Conservation Society chairman Gavin Stephens said.
The provincial environmental manager for Bulawayo Metropolitan province, Decent Ndlovu, said the mismanagement of wetlands pollutes underground water, adding that failure to conserve them could result in the reduction of water quantities, as wetlands recharged underground water.
“They are our sources of water. They hold back flood waters and runoff, reduce erosion and flood damage in the downstream catchment areas,” said Ndlovu, who spoke on behalf of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry secretary Munesu Munodawafa.
Wetlands are fragile eco-systems that are rich in biodiversity and constitute resources of great ecological, economic, cultural and recreational value. They make up less than 4% of Zimbabwe’s land area.