(Rights In Action 02 July 2021)
Following the 2019 Zimbabwe Auditor General’s report on Local Authorities which showed that most local authorities in Zimbabwe lack capacity to adequately manage the environment in their jurisdictions owing to resource capacity constraints – Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has written to the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry requesting access to the National Environment Plan which the Ministry is mandated to develop according to Section 87 of the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27].
The National Environmental Plan is a critical environmental management policy tool which according to Section 92(3)(b) of the Act, must guide all environmental projects in Zimbabwe.
According to the 2019 Auditor General’s report on local authorities, authorities that include Masvingo City Council, Mutare City Council, Bindura Municipality Marondera Rural District Council and Bubi Rural District Council do not have proper engineering landfill sites. Some of the authorities like Masvingo City Council, Chitungwiza Municipality and Binga Rural District Council also do not have adequate equipment and machinery to collect and manage waste in their jurisdictions.
The report cites lack of financial resources as the main reason for poor waste and environmental management in these local authorities.
Access to the National Environmental Plan will help in social accountability and to locate national government’s policy opportunities and gaps in strengthening environmental advocacy in Zimbabwe.
The request was meant in line with Section 62(1) and (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe read together with provisions of the Freedom of Information Act [Chapter 10:33] on access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level for the interest of public accountability and for the exercise or protection of a right.