Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Environmental Policy, Management and Ethics in Zimbabwe, 2000-2008(1)

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Environmental Policy, Management and Ethics in Zimbabwe, 2000-2008(1)

Article excerpt


This essay, explores the link between environmental policy, management and ethics in post- colonial Zimbabwe with a view to show that this link is not straightforward and unproblematic. The essay begins by outlining Zimbabwe's constitutional provisions on environment policy and management, focusing on the old constitution as amended in 2000 and the final draft constitution that was signed into law in 2013. The essay outlines and evaluates the six roles that spell out the objectives of the Environmental Management Agency (referred throughout this essay as 'the Agency'); an organization that was formed by the government of Zimbabwe to implement the provisions of the Environmental Management Act (EMA) of 2000 (Chapter 20:27). This outline and evaluation is followed by a discussion on the causes of environmental degradation in Zimbabwe.

These causes include among others, self-seeking or homocentric attitudes towards the environment and its content, the occasion of the land reform in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe's economic crisis. These causes will be preceded by a brief discussion on Zimbabwe's pre-2000 land re-distribution and the beginning of Zimbabwe's environmental crisis. Although the advent of the political crisis in Zimbabwe-which led to a haphazard and chaotic land re-distribution- had a spillover effect as it somehow affected neighbouring countries like Zambia, South Africa and Botswana, this essay will discuss Zimbabwe's environmental policy, management strategies and ethics with a view to show that Zimbabwe has a unique constitution which is silent on the inherent importance of non-human species in the environment.

The essay discusses the rationale behind the government-initiated Environmental Impacts Assessment (EIA) to establish whether or not this exercise serves the interests of all species in the environment. Finally, the essay argues that there is need to integrate ethical programmes in the policy that governs environmental management in Zimbabwe. This, probably, involves expanding the Environmental Management Board (EMB) to include people who are experts in Environmental Management Ethics and Veterinarians and animal welfare experts such as those from the SPCA.

Zimbabwe Government in Environmental Policy Formulation

To begin with, it is important to note that the old constitution of Zimbabwe (amended in 2000) did not have a specific clause that provided for the protection of the environment.2 It is against this background that in 2002, the government of Zimbabwe promulgated the EMA (Chapter 20:27) and a draft National Environmental Policy in 2003 to provide legal specifications on how the environment would be protected.3

The EMA was a consolidated environmental legislative measure which was meant to be the overall environmental legislation in Zimbabwe. After the promulgation of the EMA in 2002, some acts that had to do with environmental management had to be repealed and incorporated into the EMA in order to ensure consistency with the social, economic and political demands of the country. 4 These were: The Natural Resources Act, 9 of 1996; the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act, 31 of 1996; the Hazards Substances and Articles Act, 76 of 1996; and the Noxious Weeds Act, 16 of 1993.5

It is important to note that while the constitutional provisions of environmental management in Zimbabwe provided legal specifications, no effort was made by government to come up with an ethical framework that would augment these legal specifications with a view to expand the scope of this policy to include the interests and rights of other important species in the environment. For instance, the January 2013 Final Draft Constitution of Zimbabwe, chapter 4 (Declaration of Rights), section 73, page 46 stipulates that:

Every person has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and that the environment be protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting economic and social development. …

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