EMA armtwists Mutare City council over farm bricks ban

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By Staff Reporter

MUTARE City Council has finally resolved to comply with an Environmental Management Agency (EMA) order issued five years back which bans use of farm bricks for both commercial and residential construction.

City fathers made the decision at a full council meeting after Town Clerk Joshua Maligwa revealed that EMA had threatened to take the local authority to court and slap it with a heavy fine for failure to comply with the order.

In line with the city master plan, the smart city concept, as well protecting the environment, Maligwa said the council will ban the use of farm bricks on both commercial and residential stands.

“We are obligated as council to comply with an EMA order issued in June 2016 which then set a deadline of December 2016 for the council to stop the use of farm bricks for institutional, commercial and residential stands (construction) in the City of Mutare.

“EMA have made this decision because the use of farm bricks promotes harmful practices to the environment particularly rampant deforestation as firewood is used in the manufacture of these farm bricks,” Maligwa told councillors.

“As a progressive council, we also have the master plan which envisages the transformation of Mutare into a smart city. How then do we reconcile the use of farm bricks and construction of storey buildings?”

The Town Clerk said his management had to fight hard to convince councillors that they could not perpetuate unlawfulness under the guise of cushioning residents from prevailing economic conditions.

Some councillors expressed reservations with enforcing the order opting to selectively apply the ban on commercial and institutional stands, while sparing ordinary residents whom they said were facing economic hardships.

Maligwa said council should use this opportunity to promote investment in brick manufacturing at a 35 hectare plot set aside for brick moulding which is currently lying idle.

“The law is clear and we cannot selectively apply it, the EMA Act is a very strong law. We cannot as a city seek to perpetuate an illegality by selectively applying the law.

“There are also consequences if we only apply this order to commercial and institutional stands otherwise we risk litigation and as the chief executive of council, I could be dragged to court for this issue,” the Town Clerk said in an interview.

“We should actually be taking this up as an opportunity to attract investment into the city because we have a 35 hectare site that we have set aside for brick moulding and we should use this opportunity to create such linkages.”