The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) says it has been rendered powerless as institutions and local authorities that have been fined for various environmental crimes have been defiant.
Events that have been unfolding during the past few months have demonstrated that the EMA has no clout as various institutions continue to defy regulations and going scot-free.
EMA senior management appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government and were quizzed on how the construction of the hotel on a wetland in Harare has continued unabated despite being against the law.
EMA Director General, Mrs Mutsa Chasi told the legislators that Zimbabwe has failed to enforce relevant laws as the agency only has powers to act as a magistrateâ€™s court but cannot arrest perpetrators of environmental crimes.
She said there is need for an amendment of the act through parliament so that an institutional arrangement such as the establishment of an environmental crimes court is considered, as the judicial system is ignorant of the seriousness of environmental crimes on humanity.
“It is the enforcement part of the law that needs to be strengthened. In this way, the country will be able to deal with environmental crime,” she said.
EMA Director for Environment Services, Mr Aaron Chigona said EMA has no muscle to force government, local authorities and individual Zimbabweans to comply with the law, leaving the countryâ€™s environment at stake.
Many have questioned the relevance of EMA which is now four years old and the country is witnessing massive environmental degradation.
The question by many Zimbabweans is who will save the environment if the body mandated to perform that duty has conceded defeat.
Meanwhile, the local government board which was expected to appear before the same portfolio committee did not show up and gave no excuses.