Bulawayo community environmental rights activists have challenged the Environmental Impact Assessment Report produced by Khumatso consultancy firm on behalf of Toyota Zimbabwe for the establishment of a showroom on stand number 18276BT next to the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in ward 5.
Speaking during a validation meeting convened by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) at Greek Hall in Famona, the residents queried numerous issues that including:
- The report is not clear on the consultation process as it fails to give disaggregated statistics on the participation of women, men, youths, the elderly, people with disabilities, different races resident in the area and how they will be affected differently by the proposed showroom;
- The report seems to have consulted more the business (43 interviews) and the government/regulatory authorities (31 interviews) more than the residents (22 interviews) but it is situated within the residential area. For the residents, the report claims to have done whatsapp group consultations with 2 residents groups (Famona whatsapp group with 243 members and Bradfield whatsapp group with 275 members). The activists queried that the report is silent on the numbers of responses in these whatsapp groups as group membership cannot be equated to participation.
- The report further claims to have failed to reach other residents due to Covid19 pandemic. The environmental and human rights defenders queried this as in September 2022 (when the EIA Consultations were held) the Covid19 restrictions were long lifted in Zimbabwe.
- Furthermore, the activists questioned the sampling size used, the research methodologies employed and the sampling techniques adopted. Their concern was that the report is very silent on those matters.
- The community environmental and human rights activists further questioned the siting of the proposed showroom as it is within a wetland and the report seems to be silent on that fact and how it seeks to avert affecting a wetland.
- It was also noted that the report is silent on the water sources to be used and whether the vehicle showroom will be supplied by borehole water and if so, how will the borehole not affect the wetland nearby.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has been empowering local community human rights activists and defenders with knowledge and skills to defend their environmental and human rights. The organization has also been deliberately assisting the communities to effectively participate in EIA processes and evaluations.
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