HUMAN rights lawyers are investigating Murowa Diamond Mine for suspected environmental health hazards after over 150 students in Zvishavane were hospitalised suffering from coughing allegedly caused by the mine’s operations.
Lizwe Jamela of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the country’s Constitution guarantees citizens a right to a clean environment that is not harmful to health and where there are violations, there is a price to pay.
More than 150 students at Baradzanwa Primary School in Zvishavane were affected by dust pollution from Murowa Mine and were hospitalised.
“We are trying to gather all the information regarding this case to see how best we can intervene on a legal route. We are investigating this case because it touches on environmental rights of citizens to guarantee good health,” Jamela said.
“The Constitution is clear that all citizens have a right to a clean environment to guarantee good health and when their health is under threat or not guaranteed because of some environmental violations by, for example, mining companies, there is need to take action to protect those rights.”
Zimbabwe guarantees environmental rights through the Environmental Management Act that states that every person should have a right to a clean environment that is not harmful to health and access to environmental information.
The Act states that every person, company, institution and local authority has a responsibility to ensure environmental rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.
Environmental rights entail the rights to claim compensation for environmental violations inflicted on communities mostly by large corporates who in most cases are concerned with economic and financial profiteering without concern of their impacts to the environment.