Zimbabwe: Mandatory Community Service Proposed for Street Littering
By Wallace Mawire
Zimbabwe’s ministry of environment, water and climate is planning to come up with tough enforcement laws in a bid to end the growing problem of indiscriminate street littering and pollution of public places, according to Steady Kangata, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Education and Communications Manager.
Kangata told NGO and civil society representatives at a waste management consultative meeting in Harare that Oppah Muchinguri, minister of environment and Mrs Mutsa Chasi have raised concerns over the deteriorating levels of cleanliness and too much dirt especially in the city of Harare and have called for urgent action to be taken to redress the situation.
The meeting sought to get insights on the role of civil society in solid waste management. The expected outcome is an action plan and funding strategy for waste management to supplement the efforts by the local authorities to curb the waste management challenges facing the country.
“The minister has raised serious concern that the capital city is very dirty and other cities, towns, villages and growth points are following suit. We are seeking the cooperation of civil society partners and other non-state actors so that we can address the problems of littering and pollution of our environments. We wish cities like Harare to return to their former glamour,” Kangata told civil society representatives.
He said that the ministry of environment and EMA are seeking the cooperation of civil society partners and other pressure groups due to their vocal approach and community engagement. He also said that the minister and EMA Director-General are hoping that by 25 December 2015, Harare should be showing positive signs of cleanliness and other cities would follow suit.
According to Kangata, tough measures which are proposed to control indiscriminate littering and pollution of the environment include mandatory community service for littering. A NGO representative remarked that Singapore has had such a system in place and it has worked well.
The issue of citizens who litter and pay fines is reported not to be effective enough because people can just pay a fine and continue to litter. It is considered not a deterrent enough. People found littering in Zimbabwe are charged $20 and $5000 for dumping.
“Some other measures we are proposing to deter littering and environmental pollution in the country include holding CEOs of towns and cities accountable in their personal capacity. We also hope to have household premises inspections and charge those found on the wrong side of the law in terms of indiscriminate littering and pollution,” Kangata said.
Some of the premises which will be visited by EMA inspectors include churches and business outlets, just to mention a few.
He also added that clean up campaigns which the agency has been conducting have also not been effective enough since people just gather in what he called ‘photo moments,’ where participating groups or people just clean small places and get photographed and it ends there.
Other initiatives proposed include providing incentives or deposits for PET bottles and cans. There are also plans to ban kaylites and other food-packs especially used by retailers and other vendors as containers for sadza and chips.
Kangata said that they arrested and fined at least 327 people for littering and the numbers are still very low compared to the level of pollution going on. Also a representative of Harare city council said that 800 tonnes of waste are collected everyday in Harare.
Precious Magwaza from EMA Environment Pollution Management (EPM) office providing an outlook on solid waste management in Zimbabwe said that as of 2011 report produced by EMA in collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), 1,6 tonnes of waste were generated that year only.
She also said that due to growing population, it is expected that from 2011 to 2030 there will be a 30% increase in waste generation. Magwaza also said that medical waste is posing a challenge in disposal.