Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) Profile

Who we are?

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has established itself as a premier natural resources’ governance organisation in Zimbabwe and the Southern Africa region. ZELA’s work has evolved around promotion of environmental rights to a broader natural resource governance agenda that include natural resources including land, water, wildlife, gas and mineral resources. The organisation’s capacity to conduct legal, policy and practice relevant research has firmly established ZELA a critical voice, convenor and knowledge broker on natural resources governance. An important niche for the organisation has been the fact that it works to promote natural resource governance through a legal approach lens. ZELA currently works at the local community level, with local authorities, civil society and national government. ZELA’s work is mainly anchored on a core group of rights which are reflective of natural resources governance namely Environmental, Economic, Social and Cultural (EESC) rights. As such a large component of our work involves influencing implementation and reforms within legal and institutional frameworks governing the environment and natural resources sector mainly through research, civic education and advocacy. As an organisation we believe that having adequate laws in place and monitoring implementation are the first steps towards good governance of the environment and natural resources. The organisation has two decades experience in making notable contributions to the legal, policy and institutional frameworks governing the environment and natural resources sectors for broad based sustainable environmental, and socio-economic development in Zimbabwe and beyond through the work that is done nationally, regionally and internationally.


To be a leading public interest environmental law and justice organisation that safeguards the environment and empowers marginalized citizens and communities in Southern Africa


To promote equitable, just, and sustainable environmental and natural resources management and protection of marginalised communities and citizens in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa

Our approaches/strategies


We build and maintain effective diverse partnerships locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally with donors, Civil Society Organizations, Community Based Organizations advocacy groups, government departments, private sector etc). Through our partnerships we strengthen capacities and competencies; drive campaigns and build collaborative synergies Building grassroots environmental justice movements


Continuous generation of knowledge products from analytical, investigative, and exploratory research among others help us gather research empirical evidence to influence decisions, laws and policies relating to the environment.

Impact litigation

We approach the courts seeking justice and redress for communities in resource rich regions locally, national, and regional. We aim to use lawsuits to generate powerful precedents on environmental protection

Documentation and knowledge management

By using technology and instituting knowledge management we will drive innovative digital tools and knowledge products to guide stakeholders (including ZELA staff, CSOs, CBOs, community monitors, youth, and women groups) in collecting and documenting information on key aspects of natural resource governance such as blogs, articles, tweets, docuseries, video-infographics etc

Evidence-based technical support for policy and legislative reforms

As an environmental law organization, the law is the bedrock of our work.

Our work with communities

From the beginning, ZELA has always desired people to understand and apply the law by actively asserting and enforcing their Environmental Economic Social and Cultural Rights through public education campaigns and awareness. With much effort and application of resources, we have witnessed local communities using litigation, community monitoring, petition writing, advocacy and negotiation to claim and enforce their rights. We have helped to register and establish strong community-based groups in resource-rich areas such as Marange, Mbire, the Great Dyke, Chiredzi, Chipinge, Buhera, Chimanimani, Gwanda, Matobo, Mutoko, Hwange among others. Due to our skills-building programs, several active community-based groups are challenging environmental injustice, human rights violations, corruption and lack of transparency and accountability in the natural resources sector. ZELA has offices in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, but uses a community empowerment model in, identifying community-based organizations to anchor the work of the organisation. Where such community-based groups do not exist, ZELA assists mining communities by organising them and providing them with registration support, as common law trusts to enable them to operate legally. In some cases, ZELA has provided legal and financial support to community groups to start income-generating projects.

It must be underlined that lack of transparency and accountability in mineral revenue generation and use has been affecting the country’s ability to attract investors and has also affected the potential benefits of mining to the mining host communities and the nation at large. Informed resource rich communities are key to promotion of open, inclusive and accountable mining and environmental sector governance. Whilst community activities are mostly implemented in targeted districts, the policy advocacy work done with communities benefits all citizens of Zimbabwe, be it relating to responsible business and investments, extractives, land and natural resources, local service delivery governance, and climate change and energy.

Our work with Parliament

Over the years, ZELA has managed to link communities with elected leaders such as parliamentarians through outreach programs. Parliamentary oversight, public access to information and effective monitoring of investment deals in the country relating to natural resource governance, is more fundamental than ever to promote good governance and enhance accountability in the mining sector. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the need for investing public revenue in health service delivery and environmental protection and it is only when citizens themselves apply pressure for the executive to account for use of revenues and to make the rights decisions that this can be achieved. The mining sector in particular and in some areas is riddled with human rights abuses, inequality and social-economic injustices evinced by forced relocations, inadequate to non-existent compensation, water and air pollution, environmental degradation and violations of cultural rights.

ZELA has over the years facilitated several visits, tours and public hearings for the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Mining Development and other relevant Committees. To cement our relationship with parliament which started in 2002, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Parliament in 2014 and that MOU was renewed in 2019. ZELA’s MOU with Parliament enables the organization to enhance the capacity of Parliamentarians to provide oversight while strengthening parliament’s law-making role. To a large extent, ZELA’s work with parliament has strengthened the legislative, representation and oversight role of parliamentarians.

ZELA Contact Details

26B Seke Road, Hatfield,Harare-Zimbabwe
Website: www.zela.org
Twitter: @ZELA_Infor
Facebook: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association
Youtube: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association
Instagram: zela_infor
Tel: +263 242 573 601-3
Tollfree:+263 777 195 006

Source: ZELA

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