Responding to questions put forward by Hwange East MP Wesley Sansole during question time in parliament on Wednesday, Nkomo said Hwange Colliery Company, South Mining and the power utility were discharging toxic substances into Deka River in Matabeleland North.
Nkomo said: “I understand that mining companies are discharging acidic effluent and Zesa is discharging alkaline substances. I have been assured by Hwange that they will look into the situation.”
Despite not disclosing when the pollution started or what actions government would take on the companies, Nkomo said the Environmental Management Authority and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority would continue to “monitor” the situation.
Under Statutory Instrument 6 of 2007— effluent and waste disposal — companies and individuals could face a fine or jail term or both for polluting the environment.
When asked by Sansole what “remedial action” was required to ensure that this practice is discontinued, Nkomo advised the companies to implement pretreatment measures at the point of discharge.
Deka River also supports flora and fauna at Hwange National Park, one of the country’s largest conservancies.
This development is likely to catch the eye of conservationists and environmentalists alike at a time when the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species secretary-general Willen Wijnsters is in the country to assess its conservation efforts.
The Zimbabwe Environment Law Association (Zela) last December sought an interdict against mining companies in Chiadzwa from conducting their mining explorations and operations, and construction of an airport, until they were granted Environmental Impact Assessment Certificates in accordance with national laws.
Zela was representing more than 40 families that were relocated to make way for the full exploration of the controversial gems.
The mining companies according to media reports have since received approval from the environmental agency.