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EMA board meetings raise eyebrows

Workers at the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) have raised concern over alleged profligacy by the parastatal’s board members.

Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri

They claim that the 10-member EMA board siphoned thousands of dollars in allowances after conducting 30 meetings inside three months.

According to the EMA Act (20:27), the board should sit once each quarter. Section 5 (2) of the Act stipulates that board meetings should be held after a seven-day notice has been issued by the chairman, which means that the board can ideally meet for a maximum of four times a month.

“The chairman of the board himself may at any time and shall, at the request in writing, of not fewer than two members, convene a special meeting of the board, which meeting shall be convened at a date not sooner than seven days nor later than 30 days after receipt of such request,” reads the Act in part.

The board is chaired by former diplomat Zenzo Nsimbi.

Other board members, who were appointed in February last year by Environment, Water and Climate Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, are Sophia Nyamudeza (vice chair), Felix Moyo, Andrew Mlalazi, Nickel Mushangwe, Howard Mazaiwana, Barbara Rwodzi, Nelson Chanza, Irvine Kunene and Dorothy Chasi.

EMA is a statutory body responsible for ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources and protection of the environment; the prevention of pollution and environmental degradation and the preparation of environmental plans for the management and protection of the environment.

It was established under the Environmental Management Act Chapter 20:27, enacted in 2002.

Some of the issues it handles include environmental impact assessments and cases relating to the pollution of rivers and the environment in general by companies and local authorities.
EMA board spokesman, Moyo, denied suggestions that the board has met 30 times already this year, saying it was actually only meeting today for the first board meeting of 2017.

He said the workers could be confusing some committee meetings for board meetings.

He, however, acknowledged that there have been a lot of meetings by different board members serving in various committees, stating that the meetings were unavoidable if the board was to function properly

“The board sits once a quarter with committee meetings culminating in a full board meeting. This is in accordance with dictates of the EMA Act (20:27) and good corporate governance. We have actually scheduled the board meetings and there is no deviation. Such sittings are meant to give policy and guiding strategic directions as well as assess the performance of the agency on set strategic targets and key performance indicators,” he said on Tuesday.

He added: “The EMA Act allows us to meet as the situation demands to immediately address issues. We are called upon by situations to meet, unlike other boards.

“Ours is a hands-on board. If there is something to do with an environmental hazard, the responsible committee immediately meets and the same happens when there is a human resources issue. We cannot let the environment to be destroyed because of an allegation that we are meeting too many times. When things go out of hand, it is the same society which will say they are not doing anything. It’s our duty to protect people. Financial Gazette