The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndlovu, yesterday warned Chinese-owned mines and firms operating in Chegutu Rural District against violating environmental laws and regulations.
The environmental degradation was exposed during the tour of four Chinese companies that are into chrome mining, quarry extracting, tile making and brick moulding by Minister Ndlovu who was accompanied by Mashonaland West Minister of State, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, Norton member of Parliament Temba Mliswa and officials from Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
Minister Ndlovu said the Government was not going to fold arms and watch companies violating the environment.
He said the companies were supposed to conform with laws particularly Section 73 of the constitution, which provides for the Government to safeguard environment and deliver safe and clean environs to citizens.
“My visit to these sites has been necessitated by the need to see the impact the companies have done after having been invited by the Member of Parliament,” he said.
“I visited a mine where Afro-Shin is mining sand and the company has very low compliance and not adhering to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).
“As Government, we are fully behind the investments but we are also cognisant of the constitutional expectation of providing a cleaner and safer environment and empower EMA to discharge its duties.
“President Mnangagwa is clear about law abiding citizens and corporates.”
He said the companies were supposed to be fined for the violations and address the issues to protect the community.
Minister Ndlovu said the ministry was also going to help the companies to regularise their operations.
Speaking during the tour of sites, Minister Mliswa-Chikoka said although the province was happy with the investments as they were bringing employment and improving the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) of the province’s economic profile, it was not going to be at the expense of the environment and the nation.
She challenged the companies to abide by the Zimbabwean laws.
Sunn Yi Feng, which produces ceramic tiles and kitchenware, is said to be polluting the air through burning of waste on site, extracting sand from illegal sites, while discharge of effluent and solid waste management has forced Norton Ward 2 residents to petition the company to comply.
The community handed over their petition to Minister Ndlovu during his visit to the company’s site.
Acting chief executive officer of Chegutu Rural District Council, Mr Godfrey Machingura, said the local authority had given stern warnings to the company but it failed to address raised issues.
He said company representative, Willian Gong, denied violating the environment saying they were employing best skills and practices they use in China.
Meanwhile, despite having been told about the ministers’ tours, Chinese directors of the other three companies, Afro-Shin and Jingston mines and Norton Bricks company were not present when the delegation visited.
Recommendations were given to Afro-Shin mining manager, Laston Mlauzi by EMA’s provincial head, Rwambayi Mapako, for the company to put up a perimeter fence to protect community from open cast mining activities at the mine.