Wednesday 17 January 2024


Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Director General Aaron Chigona who was recently arrested on criminal abuse of office charges has appeared in court.

Chigona appeared before Harare Magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje who granted him US$300 bail.

The complainant is the State represented by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife.

EMA is a body corporate whose functions involve sustainable environmental protection and regulating, monitoring, reviewing and approving environmental assessments.

Chigona is being represented by Messrs Admire Rubaya and by virtue of his office as a public officer, his duties include the issuance of Environmental Impact Assessment Certificates (EIA) and ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Environmental Management Agency Act Chapter, 20: 27 (the Act].

The court heard that on July 26, 2021, Liangming Jin [Project Proponent] representing Borrowdale Investments [Pvt] Ltd submitted an application for an EIA to EMA for the development of cluster houses land on stand number 40001 measuring 1,5773 hectares and stand number 40072 measuring 23,9684 hectares, Borrowdale West, Harare, the land which was allegedly corruptly offered to the proponent by City of Harare officials without following due procedures.

The council employees behind this scam were arrested over the issue and are on remand awaiting trial.

It is the State’s case that the area is surrounded by adjacent property owners and stakeholders such as the Dandaro Home Owners Association, Augur Investments, WestProp Zimbabwe and Borrowdale residents.

The court heard that from September 2021 to October 2021, EMA conducted an assessment and review of the prospectus of both the stands in question in accordance with the Act.

lt is alleged that on October 4, 2021, and 20 October 2021, respectively, the Director of Environmental Protection informed the proponent in writing that the proposed project area is situated within a wetland and the impacts associated with the construction of the proposed infrastructures had irreversible biophysical and socio-economic implications and that the proponent had no legal title to the land thus, the application was rejected.

The proponent was further advised to make an appeal to the accused in terms of Section 129 of the Act if he was aggrieved by the decision.

On  November 3 2021, the proponent appealed to the accused in terms of section 129 of the Act and the accused instituted site ecological re-assessment on the 30th of November 2021, and on the 9th of December 2021, and wrote to the proponent advising him that the Agency still stood by its initial decision that the proposed project was not compatible with the proposed site which is a wetland.

The proponent was further advised of his right to appeal to the Minister in terms of Section 130 of the Act.

On  July 26, last year, the accused instructed Officers from EMA Harare Provincial Office, Armstrong Moyo and Leon Mutungamiri to come up with EIA review guidelines certifying that the area was compatible with housing development yet the area is the core of a wetland and the accused had earlier declined to grant EIAs.

The state alleges that this was also contrary to the accused’s earlier position that the proponent should appeal to the Minister in terms of Section 130.

On August 2, last year, the accused inexplicably approved the proponent’s request for an EIA yet the agency had rejected it and the proponent had exhausted the agency’s appeal process.

The EIA was in respect of the same project that he had declined to issue an EIA which he had steadfastly indicated was detrimental to the wetland.

By Issuing the EIA certificate and disregarding the appeal process, the accused who had a duty to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Environmental Management Agency Act Chapter, 20: 27 [the Act] acted contrary and inconsistent with the dictates of sections 129 and 130 of the Act which provides for an appeal process.

Further, it was inconsistent with his inherent duty of safeguarding the environment.

The state alleges that the accused knowingly acted contrary and inconsistent with his duties for the purpose of showing favour to Borrowdale Investments (Pvt) Ltd. Herald


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