14 July 2020
– Woodlands residents have petitioned the Minister of local Government, Public Works and National Housing requesting the Woodlands dumpsite located at Ward 16 under Vungu Rural District to be removed with immediate effect citing health and environmental risks.
As residents we have discovered that, both private and public institutions are not complying with the environmental and health rights of the people. They are contravening the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) 2013 (Chapter 4) Section (73): Environmental rights as well as the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 20:27 Section 70 (1) (2) Prohibition against discharge of wastes.
The petition reads: “We, the undersigned residents of Gweru, have come to a resolute standing that there is need for the relocation of the Woodlands dumpsite located at Ward 16 under Vungu Rural District Council, since it poses a health and environmental risk such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and cancer. Companies and institutions (which we shall not mention) are allegedly dumping their refuse were more than 10,000 residents live. Some residents fear a Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak since children are using dumped masks and gloves from the dumpsite.”
“As an Association we understand that, companies and institutions are guided by the environmental principles as they carry out their activities. That development should be sustainable, socially acceptable, economically viable and environmentally friendly. They should prevent or minimise negative impacts of their activities on the environment and further safeguard people’s environmental rights.
“Any person or organisation who causes pollution or environmental degradation should meet the cost of resolving such pollution or environmental degradation and any resultant adverse health effects. All companies and institutions should meet the cost of preventing, controlling or minimising further pollution, environmental damage or adverse health effects which their operations and actions have caused.
As residents of Gweru and Vungu, we call upon your good office to respond to our petition so that, the Woodlands dumpsite is removed before thousands of residents’ are lost,” reads the petition.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) Executive Director, Cornilia Selipiwe says this is a resident’s initiative to remove the dumpsite.
“This was the brainchild of the residents and through various engagements with the people, they have decided to send a petition to the government with our assistance. Its’ obvious, united we stand and divided we fall. If we are to remove the dumpsite residents have to be fearless and united.
“They have been suffering for years and they have said enough is enough. We have approached both Councils (Gweru City Council and Vungu Rural District Council
) and already Gweru City Council have agreed to remove the dumpsite on humanitarian basis. However, the real question now is a matter of when will the dumpsite be removed because residents are at risk of diseases. If we do not act now residents will die.
“That is why residents seek an audience with the Government to resolve this issue once and for all,” he says.
However, the letter was copied to the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Minister of State for Midlands Province, District Administrator, His Worship, The Mayor of Gweru (Gweru City Council), Vungu Rural District Council and Environmental Management Agency (EMA).