Sunday, 19 June 2016


MOBILE telephone operators are headed for a clash with the Government after they failed to heed a December directive which had set June as the deadline to scrap the use of airtime scratch cards as part of reducing litter pollution. 

In December last year, the Government announced that mobile phone operators should have scrapped the use of scratch cards and introduce environmental friendly methods of airtime recharge. Although the deadline expired two week ago, all the major mobile telephone operators are still selling airtime through the scratch cards. Environment, Water and Climate Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said the Government will not hesitate to clamp down on the operators for failing to adhere to the directive.
She said her ministry has scheduled a meeting with mobile phone operators this week to discuss the issue, of which failure by the companies to come with an acceptable position will result in the Government descending heavily on them.

“We are sticking to our position and we are not moving. We have set up a meeting with them next week (this week) to hear what they have to put in place in compliance with our directive. We discussed that last week and they are supposed to answer and tell us their plans before we take action. We are very serious on this matter and we will move in without hesitation if they fail to comply,” she said.

Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said her ministry has noted with concern that mobile phone operators had ignored the extended producer responsibility leaving the burden of cleaning used scratched juice cards on local authorities. She said airtime scratch cards were a major source of litter hence the decision to ban their use and encourage environment friendly airtime top up options.

“They have tried to appeal but we are saying no. We are even looking at a strong levy on importation as a way of discouraging their continued use. The polluter must pay the cost of destroying the environment, that’s the principle,” she said.

Thousands of airtime vendors who had found employment in airtime recharge cards selling business risk being rendered jobless if the Government goes ahead and clamp on their use. Mobile telephone companies have been indicating that they have introduced paperless top up methods but still the new ways have not yet been fully embraced by the public.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) had expressed confidence that the mobile phone companies would comply with the ban after they submitted “environmental friendly action plans” to deal with the matter.

The Government’s ban on airtime scratch cards comes as part of a raft of new regulations that also outlawed the use of kaylite packaging for food and diapers. However, most companies, even some listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, are still openly defying the directive on kaylite.

The Government has said fines for littering range from $20 to $5 000 as the Government is also working on ways to introduce mandatory community service for litterbugs.


Post a Comment