MIHR Rights In Action Weekly Update 29 Jan 2021

1. EMA Accounts on Bulawayo Environmental Issues

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has responded to the MIHR 14 January 2021 letter addressed to EMA Bulawayo Province requesting for information on the practical steps that EMA has taken to hold the Bulawayo City Council accountable on litter and sewer management.

According to the EMA response, the Council has received from EMA a total of 34 orders, 7 tickets and 6 dockets were opened since 2011. Surprisingly, in the year 2020 where sewer and litter became rampant in the City, EMA did not issue any order, ticket or open any docket against the local authority. However, the agency says it engaged the BCC who explained that they were facing fuel challenges.

About 3 dockets are still not finalized and the Agency pledged to follow up saying “ the agency will continue to follow up on the pending court cases until they are finalized”.

The Agency also revealed that that they have “started to map the litter dumps in the most affected areas like Makokoba and Mzilikaziso as to prepare orders to serve Bulawayo City Council to clear the waste as the Agency does not condone the prevailing situation in the City” read part of the letter signed by the Provincial Environmental Manager. MIHR acknowledges EMA for being accountable and will be soon commencing the process of assisting the Agency to map more litter dumps outside the stated suburbs as the issue affects the entire City. The organization also continues to educate residents on environmental rights and the responsibility of avoiding litter dumping.

2. NPRC investigates Hope Fountain Chinese Mine Human Rights Violations

The National Peace and Reconciliation has been investigating the torture and abuse of local mine workers by a Chinese miner at Fools Investment Mine in Hope Fountain at the outskirts of Bulawayo. The investigations follow a petition written by MIHR and 13 other organizations after the Saturday 16 January 2021 attack of mine workers by the miner when the workers demanded their December salaries. The petition was addressed to the NPRC, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC).

3. More Abuses by Chinese Miners Being Unraveled

Some mine workers from a Chinese owned mine Yakuts Marketing which is based in the Matopos area of Matobo District have alleged that they are being harassed and physically abused by their Chinese supervisor (name supplied) whom they described as an abusive bully. The mine workers who spoke to MIHR network partner claim the supervisor refused them December bonuses and attimes he may decide not to pay at all and he is not challenged. MIHR is further investigating this issue

4. Success of the Nonviolent Online #MondayWaterAction Launch

On Monday 25 January 2021, MIHR launched the online #MondayWaterAction campaign which is a 9 weeks nonviolent water activism campaign meant to strengthen water rights activism as well as foster improved water accountability in the country. The inaugural #StandUp4WaterRights action had 102 Bulawayo residents participating by posting their feet standing up close to empty water buckets. Following the action, 4 organizations operating in Bulawayo have joined the campaign.

The next action on Monday 1 February 2021 will see residents writing letters to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) asking questions on bulk water issues.

Source: Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights