EMA Says Environmental Criminals Must Pay Restorative Penalties
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has called for the imposition of restorative penalties on those found guilty of damaging the environment rather than fines which are no longer a deterrent.
EMA director-general, Aaron Chigona, said the fines have been eroded by inflation and offenders should now be made to meet the cost of restoring the environment.
Chigona made the remarks while speaking at the National Wetlands Policy management guidelines consultative workshop in Bulawayo on Tuesday. He said:
Environmental crimes are from level 1 to 14. Those found guilty of committing level 14 crimes are currently paying ZWL$120 000, which approximately translates to US$1200 and when those people are found guilty, they just pay the fine and walk scot-free.
We are now advocating for an environmental restoration penalty because the issue of fines is not doing anything good to our environment as they are not deterrent enough.
If someone disturbs a wetland, they should meet the cost of restoring it because the process of restoring a wetland is too expensive.
The EMA boss also said it is indefensible for those accused of environmental crimes to claim that offences were committed due to issues beyond their control.
Speaking at the same function, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Munesu Munodawafa, also said the EMA fines had become insignificant.