Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
President Mnangagwa has challenged citizens to have positive sense of responsibility to safeguard the country’s natural environment and resources. He said this while officially opening the inaugural environment forum in Harare yesterday.
“All of us the world over, need to urgently correct our actions and the time is now. We must together keep our environment clean by protecting our land, our water sources and the air we breathe,” said President Mnangagwa.
“I challenge delegates to this forum to use this platform to discuss how we can enhance personal and collective behaviour towards inculcating a culture of environmental responsibility, best suited for Zimbabwe.
“We must, therefore, be conscious of how we conduct ourselves and if need be, overhaul our way of life for sustainable environmental management. Simple everyday acts by citizens make a difference.”
The forum brought together stakeholders from various organisations including environment agencies, industrialists, academia and scientists, to deal with the impact of climate change in the country.
President Mnangagwa said as the country moves towards industrialisation and modernisation, it was imperative to adopt correct measures to mitigate the environmental and ecological risks.
“The repercussions of not doing so are dire and may lead to adverse and extreme weather conditions such as the El Nino-induced drought or the phenomena like Cyclone Idai that recently rocked Chimanimani and Chipinge,” he said.
The effects of global warming have become a cause for concern globally, and Zimbabwe is also bearing the brunt.
This has seen the country experiencing extreme weather patterns over the past two decades.
The country is contending with severe droughts due to erratic rains, decreased freshwater and destroyed biodiversity.
Episodes of drought in the past few years, coupled with changing rainfall patterns, have led to a decrease in water levels in Kariba Dam, resulting in crippling electricity shortages.
President Mnangagwa said the daunting statistics on urban population growth, increasing waste dumps, scarcity of clean drinking water in urban areas, and over-grazing, among others, gives Government the impetus to develop innovative, cross-cutting strategies to turn the tide on environmental ills.
He said in this regard, it was vital to promote conservation and use of the country’s natural resources in a manner that maintains intra and inter-generational equity.
“It is also crucial to bring the environmental conservation and protection closer to home, to where people, live and work,” said President Mnangagwa.
He challenged delegates to locate environmental concerns within the mainstream economic activities.
Further, the President said since environmental issues were linked to industry, mining, agriculture, commerce, services and fisheries, among others, there was need to thoroughly interrogate, assess and develop appropriate interventions.
He also said it was critical to discourage settlements on wetlands as “this destroys our rivers, the natural green and affect wildlife”.
President Mnangagwa said as the fire season approaches, the starting of veldfires, which cause damage to the environment, loss of property, wildlife and human lives should be avoided at all costs.
“I encourage farmers to put in place fire management modalities in light of the impending windy season,” he said.
The President also appealed to industries to properly dispose their waste, saying continued dumping of waste and effluent into water bodies and open places had dire health and pollution consequences.
“This practice must stop. I equally urge mining companies to be in harmony with nature,” he said.
“It is, thus, paramount that mines implement proper waste management and engage in land reclamation upon termination of their opencast mining operations.”
President Mnangagwa further said there was need to develop environmental management systems which enhance compliance with the Environmental Management Agency’s regulations and local authorities’ by-laws.
He said all stakeholders should comply with the law and regulations with regards to the need for environmental quality standards and environmental plans, impact assessments, audit and monitoring of projects and other matters related to proper environmental management.