Bulawayo’s Ngozi Mine dumpsite has been burning for 4 consecutive days releasing into the atmosphere noxious smoke and gases that pose serious implications for human rights and environmental management. The recent development follows other sporadic dumpsite fires that have been a constant feature over the past 3 months.
As Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) we urge the responsible authorities that include the Bulawayo City Council, the Environmental Management Agency and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to swiftly act and convene a dialogue meeting with Ngozi Mine slum dwellers and waste pickers in order to find solution to this serious matter.
Critically, the Ngozi Mine dumpsite fires lead to the following environmental and human rights concerns:
- The fires release noxious smoke and gases which cause high levels of air pollution affecting environmental, health and dignity rights for nearby suburbs such as Cowdray Park, Emakhandeni, Luveve 5 and Richmond.
- The toxic gases and smoke being released contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and thus worsen global warming and climate change effects.
- Some materials being dumped at the Ngozi Mine dumpsite are aerosols and can explode if subjected to heat. This is dangerous to waste pickers, council workers and passersby.
- There is a lot of electric and electronic waste (e-waste) being dumped at Ngozi Mine and most e-waste once burnt, it becomes hazardous substances that is dangerous for humans, environment and wildlife.
- The fires are destroying valuable waste materials which could have been collected by waste pickers and either recycled or reused thus creating employment and livelihood sustainability for over 1 200waste pickers and their families who depend on the dumpsite for economic survival.
As MIHR we have visited the Ngozi Mine site for observations and interaction with waste pickers and their leadership. We are convinced that the fires at Ngozi Mine can be solved through dialogue and civic engagement that emphasizes on the responsibilities of the Ngozi Mine waste pickers and the various stakeholders in protecting and promoting human rights. The proposed civic engagement does not in any-way imply the recognition of Ngozi Mine slum settlement as a formal settlement but it is in recognition of the Constitutional mandate to enhance human rights protection for the greater Bulawayo community, the Ngozi waste pickers themselves and Council workers operating in that area.
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