ENVIRONMENT, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday threatened to close all Bulawayo companies discharging raw sewage into the Umguza River saying they were committing murder by poisoning people and livestock.
Speaking at World Environment Day commemorations held in Umguza district, Kasukuwere said Bulawayo should be environmentally conscious and he would ensure the city council abides by the law.
He said council should adopt effective waste management practices and ensure that it treats all effluent before discharging it into the environment to prevent the pollution of water bodies.
“This day calls for all of us to join hands and take corrective actions to reverse this unpleasant situation in our environment,” Kasukuwere said.
“These challenges require all of us as individuals, communities, schools, the corporate world and civil society to unite so as to ensure proper waste management and disposal mechanisms are instituted as a way of preventing the pollution of our bodies.
“It is unfortunate that poor waste management remains a challenge bedevilling most local authorities and Bulawayo and Umguza are no exceptions.
“Bulawayo is making money at the expense of our people. How can you say you are a city father yet you discharge 40 megalitres of raw sewer into our rivers? It’s a murder and I will make sure that all local authorities and companies fingered in polluting the environment are brought to book. If it means closing them we will do that.
“It is against the law to discharge untreated effluent into the environment. All industrial, agricultural and mining effluent must be treated before it is discharged into the municipal sewer reticulation system to avoid polluting our water sources,” Kasukuwere added.
He said most river systems and dams in Zimbabwe were heavily polluted to the extent that they were now endangering both aquatic and human life.
He said water pollution affected about 226 families, 35 of them child-headed households, 109 aged people and 82 families headed by people living with disabilities.
He added that Umguza district would be the first to receive a solar powered borehole and his ministry expected that by June 2015 the problem of water would be averted.
Speaking at the same occasion, Transport minister Obert Mpofu said water pollution in Umguza district had resulted in the loss of human lives and livestock.
“Many people have died because of polluted water we are drinking. Reports that have been made confirm that there is no aquatic life in Umguza River,” he said.
This year’s World Environment Day was commemorated under the theme “Clean, safe and healthy environment our responsibility”.
Pollution of the Umguza River is so serious that the government set up a task force to probe the matter last month.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo last month revealed that the government had dispatched a team of experts to Umguza to carry out a detailed study of water quality on the impact of the contaminated water on the agricultural activities and inhabitants within the Umguza area.
The Environmental Management Agency has also condemned water from the Umguza River as unsuitable for drinking, irrigation and agricultural purposes.