BY SILAS NKALA
PARLIAMENT is considering the petition filed by a Bulawayo-based human rights group, Matabeleland Institution for Human Rights (MHIR) seeking the enactment of a national e-waste policy to regulate the disposal and recycling of e-waste in Zimbabwe.
The group also pushes for a policy that prohibits the international dumping of obsolete electronic and electric equipment.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda on Tuesday confirmed receiving the MIHR petition.
“I wish to advise the house that Parliament received another petition from the Matabeleland Institute of Human Rights requesting Parliament to exercise its constitutional mandate by enacting a national e-waste policy. The petition has been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Climate and Tourism,” Mudenda said.
In the petition, MIHR coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa wrote that Section 119 (1) of the Constitution mandates Parliament to protect human rights in Zimbabwe.
He said Section 119 (2) of the Constitution provides that Parliament has power to ensure that the provisions of the governance charter are upheld and that the agencies of government at every level act constitutionally.
He noted Section 73 of the supreme law provides that every person has the right to an environment that is not harmful to health. Thus the environment should be protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation.
“Noting that to achieve a digital economy and internet at village levels, government targets to increase internet penetration rate from 59,1% in 2020 to 75,4% by 2025. Further, the mobile penetration rate is also expected to increase from 94,2% to 100% by 2025. We are alarmed by the increasing amounts of e-waste, as evidenced by the 2020 Global E-Waste Monitor, which shows that the global generation of e-waste grew by 9,2 tonnes since 2014 and is projected to grow to 74,7 tonnes by 2030,” reads part of the petition.
“Globally in 2019, the formal documented collection and recycling was 9,3 tonnes, thus 17,4% compared to e-waste generated. The fate of 82,6% (44,3 t) of e-waste generated is uncertain, and its whereabouts and the environmental impact vary across the different regions. Since 2014, the global e-waste categories that have been increasing the most (in terms of total weight of e-waste generated) are the temperature exchange equipment (with an annual average of 7%), large equipment (+5%), and lamps and small equipment (+4%).”
Maphosa said the trend was driven by the growing consumption of these products in lower income countries.
He said Africa generated 2,9 tonnes of e-waste in 2019 but only 0,9% of it is collected and recycled.
“In 2019, Zimbabwe is estimated to have generated 17kt of e-waste and only 0,03Kt of it is documented to be collected and recycled. The growing amount of e-waste is mainly fuelled by higher consumption rates of electronic and electric equipment (EEE), short life cycles, and few repair options,” the rights group wrote.
“We are further alarmed that according to the 2020 Global E-Waste Monitor, only 13 countries have a national e-waste legislation/policy or regulation in place and Zimbabwe is among those without. We are concerned that e-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury, brominated flame retardants (BFR), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), or hydro chlorofluoro carbons (HCFCs).”
The MIHR noted that the increasing levels of e-waste, low collection rates, lack of specific e-waste policies and treatment of waste in streams pose significant risks to the environment and human rights.
The rights group is worried about the silence by the Environmental Management Act, the Statutory Instrument 268 of 2018 and the NDS1 to have specific policy measures of managing and controlling the disposal, handling, recycling and documentation of e-waste in Zimbabwe.