RECENT reports that the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has blocked 15 projects earmarked for development on wetlands are an indication that the environmental watchdog has awoken from its slumber and is geared to carry out its mandate of preserving nature.
It also emerged that 60% of those projects were based in Harare, which means authorities in the city of government were not taking environmental issues seriously.
We urge Ema to consistently stamp its authority and defy political pressure that may come its way for the good of present and future generations.
It is no secret that wetlands, which are vital for ecological balance, are under serious threat of extinction. Therefore, authorities need to urgently intervene and save the underground water reservoirs for future generations.
There have been several cases of land barons and so-called urban farmers conniving with politically-connected businesspeople, city and town council officials to invade this delicate resource without considering the long-term effects of such moves.
The underground water reservoirs act as sponges that play a critical role in conserving and cleaning water. Climate change effects are more pronounced in countries that have tampered with wetlands and forests.
While we applaud Ema for making the right noises aimed at protecting this fragile natural habitat, we believe government is not doing enough to complement the agency’s efforts in preserving nature.
As we speak, Ema is publicly viewed as a toothless bulldog that is frowned on by local authorities and companies. But all blame goes to central government for its failure to give the bite to this critical organisation whose responsibility is to ensure preservation of our environment.
Ema should be accorded arresting and even prosecution powers for it to perform its mandate effectively while government should ensure all wetlands which were tampered with are restored.
Ema should make sure all proposed developments are ecologically sound, socially acceptable and environmentally friendly.
There is no doubt that Ema can do better in its endeavour to safeguard wetlands, as witnessed by the number of tickets and environmental protection orders it has issued.
Sadly, the agency has been frustrated by politicians who don’t care a hoot about preserving nature. All they are after are profits without due regard to the legacy they bequeath the next generation.
We believe that the successful protection of wetlands hinges on stakeholder buy-in and government’s commitment to ensure Ema has its teeth sharpened to bite.