BY SILAS NKALA THE Greater Hwange Residents Trust has taken coal-mining firm Mutagech Logistics Private Limited (Mutagech) to court to stop its mining activities in Hwange’s Nechenge area.
Represented by their co-ordinator Fidelis Chima, the residents cited Mugatech, Hwange Rural District Council and the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) as the respondents.
In his founding affidavit, Onesimus Mpala, a Diki village resident, cited as the third applicant, submitted that they were seeking to stop Mutagech from carrying out mining activities at the Nechenge Coal Mine project site on the basis that the local community was not consulted as mandated by the Constitution as read with the Ema Act [Chapter 20:27].
“Consultation was limited to Chief Charles Nekatambe, headman Joseph Change and only seven village heads to the unjustified exclusion of the majority of the villagers numbering more than 300 as it appears on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) document report headed Lukosi Concession Special Grant number 6001,” the affidavit read.
“The application is, therefore, brought in terms of section 73 of the Constitution as read with section 4 of the Ema Act [Chapter 20:27] and the EIA and Ecosystem Protection Regulations 2007, Statutory Instrument 7 (2007). Applicant’s right to participate in the implementation of the promulgation of reasonable legislative policy and other measures that prevent pollution and environmental degradation and secure ecologically sustainable management and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development has been impinged in the implementation of the project without consulting Hwange residents, especially the directly affected villagers.”
They are seeking to protect their right to enjoy an unspoilt nature or to a decent environment which is free from excessive pollution as well as the right to enjoy ecological biodiversity.
“As far as applicants understand in terms of the law of Zimbabwe, all people have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development. In particular, applicants rely on the constitutional entitlement to reasonable legislative and other measures that secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting economic and social development,” Chima submitted.
The Nechenge villagers face eviction and displacement to pave way for the mining activities, despite them not having been consulted.