By Rutendo Bamu
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Harare Wetlands Trust (HWT) have applauded the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism for calling on the state to take urgent measures such as developing environmental plans to control massive wetlands destruction caused by the City of Harare that is increasingly authorizing developments on wetlands.
Addressing a press conference today at Media Centre, the ZLHR and HWT commended Parliament for responding to their 2019 submissions that resulted in a Parliamentary Report on Wetlands Management that calls for the state to protect wetlands from unlawful developments that has resulted in continued degradation which harm the ecosystem.
Environmental Committee chairperson, Tapera Saizi said “ZLHT and HWT support the call for legislative provisions to ensure that all development on wetlands be prohibited except in the most exceptional circumstances saying a legislative reform is critical for wetlands protection.”
ZLHR Senior Programmes Lawyer, Fiona Iliff also said as much as they specifically applauded the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Report on Wetlands Management to ensure checks and balances and objective assessments on the ecological issues in decision making processes, they further recommend that a specialised environmental police unit with expertise on environmental issues be established.
ZLHR and HWT called on the City of Harare, the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the Environmental Management Agency to protect wetlands in the context of increased developments on wetlands. Against this backdrop, ZLHR and HWT commend the Parliament Portfolio Committee for calling on the state to take urgent measures to curb persistent wetlands destruction in Harare.
ZLHR and HWT however made further demands by calling upon the Ministry of Environment to review and update the National Environmental Plan, and to develop Local Authority Environmental Action Plans, as recommended, in a manner recognizing the importance and protection of wetlands.
The ZLHR and HWT call on Parliament and the Executive to urgently implement the recommendations in terms of the government’s obligations and in terms of sections 73 and 77 of the constitution, to protect the environment and water resources for present and future generations.