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RE: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association Executive Director’s End of Year Message

20 December 2021

Dear Partners, Stakeholders and Donors

RE: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association Executive Director’s End of Year Message

We have come to the end of 2021, a year which has been dominated by COVID-19 chronicles. For many people like us, we kept hoping for the beautiful dream of the transition to the new normalcy but that dream never came true and now we realize that this is now the new normal. As an organization, we are now looking to the long term , where we must learn to live with the virus just like any other virus. We have now adapted to the virus and our innovation is within this context.  However, I am certainly grateful to all of you for not tiring in rallying behind our vision. Against all odds, we have managed to be resilient and consistent, all because of your support.

We are battling a global pandemic that has affected all of us. Through this predicament, we have been inspired by your kindness and generosity. The year 2021, has been a landmark for us as the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) as we celebrated two decades of promoting environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilization of natural resources and environmental protection. We have managed to stay the course and some of the notable achievements include partaking in impact litigation where we have approached the courts to seek justice and redress for marginalized communities. Looking back twenty years ago, the bigger picture which motivated ZELA to be founded as a public interest organization, was the realization that no one was giving attention to environmental violations affecting poor and marginalized communities.  Often, these communities’ rights are violated by investors and State Owned Enterprises (SOE) operating in their localities and rarely do they find redress.  It is against this background that ZELA has managed to make a strong case that development projects must not contribute to human rights violations, but rather respect them by upholding Environmental, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the citizens.

In my 2020 new year message, I indicated ZELA’s concerns on the issue of machete gangs wreaking havoc in several mining communities, an issue which has continued to threaten the livelihood of millions of people including the marginalized groups such as women. Responding to our work aimed at promoting sustainable, safe, responsible, profitable, and environmentally friendly mining practices in the artisanal and mining sector and concerned by these developments, ZELA petitioned Parliament in June 2020, in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. In May 2021, the organization was then invited to appear before the Joint Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Mines and Mining Development and Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services to present its findings on machete violence and proffer solutions. The organization highlighted the need to bring to finalitythe Mines and Mineral Amendment bill including ensuring that the Bill responds to the formalization and regulation of artisanal mining.

In addition, 2021 saw ZELA continuously providing evidence-based technical support for policy and legislative reforms. It is pleasing to note that although not much has been done on the policy reform front, the continued call by organizations such as ZELA to enhance transparency and accountability in the administration of mining titles is bearing fruit. The government has started the roll out of the mining cadastre system to address the issue of double allocation of mining claims.  ZELA has continued to call for the finalization of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill informed by the citizens’ aspirations. After several years of advocacy and lobbying, we hope 2022 will be a better year as far as finalization of the Bill is concerned. The 2022 National Budget has allocated ZWL$3 billion to finance the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act, operationalization of the mining cadastre system, decentralization of operations, opening of closed mines, among others, which we hope will go a long way in positively transforming Zimbabwe’s mining sector.

In 2021, ZELA ‘s Land and Natural Resources ( wildlife sector) and Climate Change and Energy Governance programmes gained momentum. These were spurred by legislative and policy developments like the Review and Amendment of the Parks and Wildlife Act, Review of the Wildlife Policy of 1992, review of the Environmental Management Act and the Tourism Act. All these developments building on the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources ( CAMPFIRE) Reviews , are opening a new frontier of opportunities for us. The proposed Climate Change Act is also a big opportunity for our Climate Change and Energy Governance project and these will be pursued to the maximum in 2022.

Dear Partners, Stakeholders and Donors as the year comes to an end, allow me to say this, we need to celebrate endings for they precede new beginnings. It is my humble wish that the spirit of Christmas touches the hearts of each one of you. May the New Year bring with it good tidings of great joy.  

Stay safe and happy holidays to you and your loved ones. 

Please note, our offices will be closed for the holidays from 17December 2021 to 17 January 2022. For any urgent matters, do not hesitate to email me at mutusod@zela.org

Yours Sincerely,

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