BY LORRAINE MUROMO
RESIDENTS associations have accused government of lacking the political will to stop wetlands destruction by politically-connected land barons.
This comes as the Environment Management Agency (Ema) has said 26% of the country’s wetlands were severely damaged and needed rehabilitation.
Delegates attending a consultative meeting on the protection of wetlands in the capital yesterday said there was need for stronger policies which save wetlands from private land developers.
“We have a problem of private land developers grabbing and developing land without proper environmental certification. We have the legal framework and good policies that are never implemented because there is no political will,” said Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association executive director Cornelius Seliphiwe.
“The Ministry of Local Government and public works should enforce the Environmental Management Act and other punitive legal instruments.”
The meeting was organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association.
United Mutare Residents Trust Assistant programmes officer Faith Mupita added: “We are very concerned about the invasion of wetlands … in the process we are losing flora and fauna and infrastructure. There is need to review by-laws, and for the government to intervene to make sure that wetlands are preserved.”
However, Parliament’s environmental committee representative Chido Madiwa said the fight against wetland destruction needed resources. He denied lack of political will to fight the vice.
“The Ministry of Environment and Ema and local authorities are aware of all these challenges, but have limited capacity to enforce the existing laws and regulations,” Madiwa said.
“The problem has become bigger than them and in some cases; some of the officials are now flowing with the tide that is helping the destruction of wetlands. As Parliament, we say there is urgency to act now and protect our wetlands considering the benefits we get from them,” Madiwa added.
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