THE Auditor General has taken the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to task over its failure to monitor and evaluate environmental degradation caused by mining activities.
According to the Auditor General’s report of July 2014 on the management of environmental degradation caused by mining activities in Zambia, there was poor monitoring and evaluation of environmental degradation caused by mining companies.
The report observes that measures put in place by the Government to ensure that environmental degradation caused by mining activities were not adequately managed effectively and efficiently.
It says there was failure to review the implementation of the national policy on the environment because some provisions in the policy on environment demanded costly technology and other technical resources, which were still a challenge.
There was also failure by ZEMA to regulate and enforce the law. The report says failure to revise laws relating to the environment had led to, among other things, continued pollution of water bodies,
improper handling of waste and outdated environmental practices.
The report also bemoans poor management of the environmental protection fund which had been put in place by the Government to secure the environment against future environmental liabilities that
might arise in case the mines failed to meet their environmental liabilities at the close of their businesses.
It says that management of the fund was characterised by failure by mining companies to provide bank bonds or guarantees not validated by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) as required by laid-down procedures.
The audit report further reveals that the current fund manager had no financial skills to manage the fund effectively.
The report further shows that some laboratory equipment had not been calibrated, while others were non-operational.
In some instances, mining companies did not submit bi-annual reports as stipulated in the laws or licensing conditions, hence the detection of air and water pollution was left too late.
The Auditor General urged ZEMA and the ministry responsible for environmental protection to review the national policy. The report calls for the development and enforcement of legislation.
The statutory instruments on environmental impact assessment, water and air pollution control regulations should be reviewed to address changes in mining practices.
Times of Zambia