Tendai Mugabe and Nesia Mhaka, Harare Bureau
President Mnangagwa yesterday declared the first Friday of each calendar month, the National Environment Cleaning Day, as his Government moves to ensure that the country has sustainable environment management and waste disposal systems.
He made the declaration as he officially launched the national clean-up campaign in Harare and signed a declaration to this endeavour.
The national environmental cleaning across the country will be carried out between 8am and 10am.
Themed “Zero tolerance to litter: my environment my pride”, the national clean-up campaign launch was also attended by the First Lady Amai Axilia Mnangagwa, President Mnangagwa’s two deputies Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Cde Kembo Mohadi, Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and several Cabinet Ministers.
Launching the campaign, President Mnangagwa stressed the importance of unity and harmony to keep the environment clean.
He said Government had set aside December 5 of every year to plant trees countrywide and to remind each other the importance of keeping the environment clean.
“Let us be united. Let us love peace. Let us love harmony. Let us work together. Let us clean our nation, clean our environment together. Let us be together in broad daylight, at night, during challenges and let us be together. Gore renzara takabatana, gore remaguta takabatana, gore resarudzo takabatana,” said President Mnangagwa.
“The world we live in is deteriorating rapidly due to the dire consequences of climate change which manifest as floods, heat waves, diseases, water and air pollution, land degradation and desertification among other challenges.
“These developments require us to take bold and decisive action with regards to the management of our environment of ensuring a clean environment. We need to keep our villages, towns and cities clean and hygienic, both for this generation and generations to come.
“We must therefore be re-oriented to practice good environmental and waste management through increased advocacy, education, training and awareness. We must do this from a place of pride not just a necessity.
“Furthermore, it is important to be alive to the need for the sound management of chemical waste, solid waste as well as electronic and plastic waste, for the protection of human health, flora and fauna.”
President Mnangagwa urged young people to be innovative and explore ways of extracting value from the waste products.
In this regard, President Mnangagwa urged the women and the youths to form groups that can start projects using waste products as was the case in other countries.
“I, thus call for greater use of new technologies and application in the management of all forms of waste and pollution,” said President Mnangagwa.
“In addition, young entrepreneurs are encouraged to be innovative and explore the immense business potential in waste and environmental management.
“Equally, our education institutions are encouraged to scale up environmental awareness programmes within schools and institutions of higher learning, on the importance of respecting the environment and living in harmony with nature. Equipping this future generation with the necessary environmental knowledge and skills will help in mitigating the effects of climate change through environmental restoration and conservation.”
President Mnangagwa noted that urban centres in Zimbabwe generated about 165 million tonnes of waste per year, the bulk of which ended up in open illegal dump site, urban streams and wetlands.
He said this had often resulted in blocked drainage system, contaminated surfaces and underground water.
“The Government is committed to uphold and further environmental rights through enactment and passing of laws which enforces responsible waste management behaviour at individual, household and company level,” said President Mnangagwa.
“It is mandatory in terms of the Environmental Management Act that every local authority develops a Local Environmental Action Plan (LEAP).
“In this respect, it is commendable that some local authorities have embraced the LEAP’s programme and managed to construct properly lined and well-engineered land fill sites. It is my Government’s expectation that all other municipalities will follow suit.”
President Mnangagwa said plastic materials were the biggest pollutants and urged wholesalers and retailers not to use plastic materials for packaging.
Earlier in the morning, President Mnangagwa planted a Mushumha tree at State House which is the national tree of the year.
The First Lady and the two VPs Dr Chiwenga and Cde Mohadi also planted trees at State House.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said they were targeting to plant 15 million trees this year.