By Kudakwashe Pembere
THE new Environment Management Bill stipulates that stiffer penalties will be meted out on unrepentant offenders polluting the environment, a Cabinet official said on Tuesday.
Addressing a post cabinet media briefing in Harare, Information Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said the new bill will not be linient towards cantakerous environmental offenders.
“Penalties and minimum mandatory sentences will be imposed on repeat offenders for failure to comply with the prohibition of discharging hazardous substances, chemicals and materials or oil into the environment,” she said.
She said Cabinet approved the principles of the Bill.
“Cabinet considered and approved the Principles for the Amendment of the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27], which were presented by the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Dr Mangaliso Ndlovu,” she said.
With Zimbabwe aligning most public entities statutes with the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act, the Environmental Management Authority will not be spared.
“The proposed amendments will align the Act to the Constitution and strengthen the Act by providing for the comprehensive protection of the countrys environment in a manner that ensures sustainable development.
“Cognisant that environmental issues have taken centre stage nationally and internationally, the amendments will also harmonise the Act with the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act as well as regional and international treaties and conventions which Zimbabwe is party to.
“Highlights of the amendments include incorporation of the principles of good corporate governance in the appointment of the Environmental Management Agency’s Director-General and Board taking into account regional and gender balance,” Minister Mutsvangwa added.
The new ammendment Bill also gives EMA more powers to punish those who do not comply with the Authority’s orders.
“Imposition of deterrent penalties for non-compliance with orders issued by EMA officers or inspectors, including civil penalties in addition to the criminal sanctions;
“Compelling all businesses operating in an area where there is no existing sewerage system to install an effluent pre-treatment facility;
“Undertakers of projects whose effects outlive the project lifespan will be required to submit Environmental Decommissioning Plans, which will ensure that the projects sites are rehabilitated to restore or reclaim the project areas, making them suitable for other activities upon decommissioning of the plant,” said the Information Minister.