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Wanton littering is a criminal offence

The environmental law in Zimbabwe criminalises littering by individuals and companies, particularly those in the retailing and advertising industry.
According to the Act, “no person shall discard, dump or leave any litter on any land or water surface, street, road or site in or at any place except in a container provided for that purpose or at a place which has been specially designated, indicated, provided or set apart for such purpose.”
The supporting Statutory Instrument 6 of 2007 on effluent and solid waste disposal makes such a person “liable to a fine not exceeding level three or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to such fine and such imprisonment.”
Zimbabwe’s environmental law also prohibits littering by motorists and vehicle passengers. Throwing litter off vehicles, which has now become common practice, attracts “a US$20 fine or three months imprisonment or both such fine and imprisonment,” states the Environmental Management Agency.
The law also stipulates that passenger vehicles must have litterbins for use by their passengers, failure of which they must pay the US$20 fine.
However, with the fine set at US$20, one wonders whether this is deterrent enough and whether the littering challenges that Zimbabwe is currently facing will ever be a thing of the past.
Participants at a recent Miracle Missions-organised Waste Management Networking meeting in Harare viewed US$20 as being too lenient to make a positive difference.
Although EMA constantly engages municipal police in a bid to ensure effective enforcement of the littering laws and fining of the offenders, law enforcement still has some loopholes.
In addition, with the municipal police often labelled as corrupt and toothless, environmental law enforcement will continue to be elusive. What is needed is to raise public awareness on the various fines that apply for littering, and giving the public powers to effect citizen arrest on littering offenders.
Also without the buy-in of commuters, the bins that Zimbabwe’s environmental law stipulates should be in every passenger vehicle may not be used and motorists and passengers could continue to throw away litter from vehicles in motion.
Feedback: mukundi@environmentafrica.org / mmutasa@gmail.com

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