Rights In Action Weekly Update 12 Feb 2021

BCC Accounts on Water and Roads Funding

Following the MIHR letter to the Bulawayo City Council on 02 February 2021 asking for information on roads and water funding, the local authority has responded and provided the information. According to the local authority response:

  1. The BCC 2021 allocation from ZINARA is ZWL 157 million of which BCC has received ZWL15,436,055 for the first quarter (received on 03.02.2021) for routine maintenance (ie pothole patching). The disbursed funds will produce approximately 400 tonnes of premix which will be utilised within 6/7 weeks. The last disbursement in 2020 was of ZWL 10,376,002 made on 6 October 2020 and was exhausted before the end of December 2020. The funds were used for procurement of pothole patching and premix overlay materials.
  2. The water pipeline levy collected during dollarization was US$6,911,115.26 i.e. from year 2009 to June 2018 and these were used for the Epping Forest project which is expected to contribute 10ML / day to the City once finalised. From July 2018 to December 2020 ZWL$4,075,924.88 was collected.
  3. BCC top water priorities involve the development of new water sources and improvement at the existing water sources which include: Inyankuni Booster station upgrade (USD 0.4 Million); Increasing of Mtshabezi abstraction (USD 2.3 Million); and Khami Water Recycling (USD 35 Million).

MIHR to Host Online Environment and E-Waste Summit

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) and Community Podium will from the 10 – 12 March 2021 be hosting an online Bulawayo Environment Summit and National E-Waste Conference aimed at amplifying citizen’s voice and agency on environmental rights and management issues and on policy and legislative measures to manage e-waste.

According to The Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 Report, in 2019 the world generated a striking 53.6 Mt of e-waste of which only 17% of it is formally documented to be collected and recycled, leaving the fate of 82.6% (44.3 Mt) of e-waste generated in 2019 uncertain in terms of its whereabouts and environmental impact. The global generation of e-waste grew by 9.2 Mt since 2014 and is projected to grow to 74.7 Mt by 2030. Zimbabwe is projected to have generated 17Kt of e-waste and only 0.03Kt is documented to be collected and recycled.

E-waste is very hazardous to the environment and to human well-being as it contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury, brominated flame retardants (BFR), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). A total of 50t of mercury and 71Kt of plastics are found in globally undocumented flows of e-waste annually, which is largely released into the environment and impacts the health of the exposed workers.

Other local organizations participating in the Summit include Radio Dialogue and Gemstone International Foundation for Transformation and Kaizen Champions Foundation.

Bulawayo’s Pits of Death

On Tuesday 09 February 2021, a 15year-old boy drowned and died in a disused open pit found In Pelandaba West, in Bulawayo. Efforts to retrieve him were futile and his body was found floating on Thursday. In year 2020, Bulawayo lost 2 children due to these disused and abandoned open sand pits.

On 14 December 2020, MIHR Coordinator wrote to the Council’s Environmental Management and Engineering Services Committee Chairperson seeking Council’s position and plans towards filling up these pits and the response was that “the pits being referred to were opened illegally and Council will attend to them when resources permit”. On 14 January 2021, he did a Twitter Thread highlighting what he termed #Pitsofdeath and tagged BCC and some of its officials – but there was no response.

Whilst some of the pits were not dug by BCC but due to the fact that they are in BCC territory and that the council is a government institution, Sections 44, 73, 194 and 276 of the Constitution compels BCC to Act as it has the duty to protect.

Following this latest unfortunate incident, MIHR will be officially reporting this issue to EMA and ZHRC.

#MondayWaterAction Update

Week 3 of Monday Water Action (08 Feb 2021) saw 244 Bulawayo residents attending an online Whatsapp public meeting to present a submission paper of residents’ questions on water issues to Bulawayo City Council. Chairperson of the Future Water Supplies Committee Cllr S.Moyo received the submission paper with 66 questions categorized into thematic areas, and pledged to return with the response soon.

Week 4 of #MondayWaterAction (15 Feb 2021) residents are answering the question “why is water important to you?” but instead of word answers, they are sending pictures of daily water usages and since pictures speak more than words, the pictures will tell us why water is important to Bulawayo Residents.

Source: Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights

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