Bulawayo Metropolitan Senator Gideon Shoko has advocated for the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to be granted arresting powers to curb rampant land degradation.
Shoko urged Parliamentarians to draft laws which will give traditional leaders the authority to govern land use within their jurisdictions.
He said failure to protect the environment has led to loss of human life and environmental degradation, climate change and deforestation.
“We would like to see EMA being empowered. EMA can be empowered by law where we put legislative frameworks that allow them to deal with the culprits as quickly as possible,”he said.
Shoko said traditional leaders must educate communities on how to take care of the environment.
“Certainly, our traditional leaders are very important in dealing with these issues as well because they are the ones who stay with the communities.”
He said artisanal miners must be educated on the effects of mining on the environment so that they may be able to rectify their mistakes.
“Artisanal miners cut trees and dig all over the place. When they are are done they leave the pits they would have dug uncovered,” he said. “This is dangerous to humans and to our livestock. They fall into these pits which results in crippling injuries or even death at the worst.”
“We understand they are doing this because of the level of unemployment in the country. It would be best to formalise this line of trade so we can effectively discuss environmental safety issues,” he said.
Shoko said there are several cases where some artisanal miners have fallen victim to the uncovered pits and died.
Senator Shoko said along the Selous and Bulawayo, there are a lot of veld fires caused by people hunting small game.
“It is therefore important that empowerment of relavant stakeholders comes from this House, lower House and a lot of cooperation from the executive,” he said.
Zvimba senator Joseph Chirongoma concurred saying artisanal miners activities contaminate water bodies.
“After digging they wash their gold ore in rivers. Some get silted. I suggest the Government enacts very strong laws that prohibit washing of gold ore in those rivers because human beings, domestic animals and other animals no longer have access to clean, safe water, ” he said.