Bulawayo urged to amend laws to support waste pickers

The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has urged the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to push for the amendment of archaic legislation that hinders the operations of waste pickers in the city.

MIHR Coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said the local authority needs to come up with laws that will accommodate waste pickers.

He said waste-picking is a lucrative business that has the potential to raise US$7 million if properly implemented.

“But we have a problem of Statutory Instrument 525 of 1979, before we even got our independence which tentatively outlaws any form of waste picking because the SI states that whenever a bin is taken out of a premise or a household, it now belongs to the city council. No one is supposed to temper with it. As long as we have that law which is colonial, archaic and does not represent the economy, does not speak to the circular economy that we want to build then we will have a serious problem.” 

Maphosa said the council must push for the enactment of laws that will integrate, incentivize, and promote waste picking in Bulawayo.

He highlighted that most waste-picking companies are currently in Harare, and should the city council implement favourable laws, these companies may invest in Bulawayo.

“We are lobbying for the amendment of that statutory instrument and the amendment of our solid waste management system. These laws must integrate waste pickers because they are a free service to the authority. We need as a city to entice and bring in waste recycling companies if we are to bring up the circular economy,” he said.  

“The challenge we have is recycling companies are leaving Bulawayo to Harare. Most of them are now resident in Harare, so after the waste pickers get their waste, they have to factor in transporting it to Harare which is an extra constraint on their pockets. However, if we can have more recycling companies in the city, and an incentive is established for waste-picking, we will build a strong circular economy. Our current projection is that the waste pickers are circulating about US$2.5million in the city of Bulawayo per year and they can be able to raise that to US$7.8million per year if we put affirmative action.” 

Chairperson of the Finance Committee, Cllr Mpumelelo Moyo said the council would look into the matter as it stands to benefit the city through both income generation and getting rid of litter.

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