Business Community Development Legal and Parliamentary Affiars

No Foreign Investment to progress at the expense of the environment: Temba Mliswa

By Joyce Mukucha

Sunny Yi Feng Tiles Zimbabwe, a Chinese factory company in Norton has been accused of violations and non-compliance issues by neglecting to comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment thereby posing serious damages to the surrounding environment.

In his letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Member of the House of Assembly for Norton Constituency Honourable Temba Mliswa said the issue was complex and there was need for urgent intervention of external forces.

Honourable Mliswa emphasised that he was excited by the prospects of foreign investment but the nation was not in such a rush as it is not worth having such at the expense of the community, its people and the environs. No matter how great the asset, it has to benefit the country, he said. Sunny Yi Feng Tiles Zimbabwe has dismally failed to embark upon any meaningful corporate responsibility programmes. From the outset this investment has been deemed illegal as a result of non-compliance.

“Just as any other patriotic and nation building Zimbabwean, I readily welcome and encourage foreign investment to the country. However there are concerns at time that we must seriously evaluate at what cost the welcome relief comes at with special attention to the effect of investment has on the environment and its people.

“Hazardous environmental degradation and ecological disaster risk, the Chinese have ignored. Not only do the people of Norton face direct, personal prejudice from the Chinese, but the risk of health problems and environmental degradation pose a real long term threat,” said Hon. Mliswa.

The threat of air, noise and water pollution in the neighbouring residential suburbs has potential to be serious and people there will more than likely suffer ill health as a result.

He said it was imperative that foreign investment should have long term, sustainable and tangible development benefits whereby the investors have the money and citizens have the resources which therefore makes equal partnership which reap mutually beneficial fruits. Investment, he said, should benefit both and not be at the expense or detriment to or of the other.

It has been noted that Sunny Yi Feng Tiles Zimbabwe does not have a waste or water management design, further creating the danger of the proliferation of waterborne diseases and contamination.

“The absence of an emission plan means that pollutants such as air, noise among others cannot be ascertained. The close proximity of the plant to a major water body is a serious threat to Norton’s access to clean, safe drinking water and therefore strict adherence measures must be implemented.

“A court order HC9867/18 compelled Sunny Yi Feng Tiles Zimbabwe to comply with the EIA. However, the tile company remains in contempt,” reads the letter.

Honourable Mliswa has proposed to the President that the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry through the Environmental Management Agency ought go to the ground and compile a comprehensive report on the corrective measures taken since their visit in October 2018 and the current status thereof today.

Apart from causing environmental degradation, the Chinese tile making factory is also being allegedly accused of negligence to conduct formal banking transactions for the purpose of tax evasion. There is also suspicious mining activities being carried out and corruption allegations associated with the company. Mliswa reiterated that it was important that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission together with the Special Anti-Corruption Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police institute urgent investigations into the aforementioned allegations.

“I am not out to get the Chinese neither do I have a personal vendetta against them but our people must be protected by our Government laws and Government must follow up and ensure that laws are being followed. Structures are already in existence including Zimbabwe Investment Authority, to implement such. However, they need to be jostled into action.”

He pointed out that some countries desperate for economic growth will accept anything but he would not put Zimbabwe in this bracket. However, it is prudent to understand why some other countries have shunned Chinese investment to the extent that Chinese have been booted out of their countries.

Mliswa urged the President to be on the side of the nation without permitting such scenarios that bring threats which can aggravate into serious ramifications for future generations.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende