International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s constitution contains provisions for the protection of the environment:

Section 72 outlines the Rights to agricultural land. In this section-- "agricultural land" means land used or suitable for agriculture, that is to say for horticulture, viticulture, forestry or aquaculture or for any purpose of husbandry, including anything permanently attached to or growing on land; "piece of agricultural land" means a piece of agricultural land registered as a separate piece of land in a Deeds Registry.

Agricultural land, or any right or interest in such land, is required for a public purpose, including:

a. settlement for agricultural or other purposes
b. land reorganization, forestry, environmental conservation or the utilization of wild life or other natural resources
c. the relocation of persons dispossessed as a result of the utilization of land for a purpose referred to in paragraph (a) or (b); the land, right or interest may be compulsorily acquired by the State by notice published in the Gazette identifying the land, right or interest, whereupon the land, right or interest vests in the State with full title with effect from the date of publication of the notice.
Section 73 highlights Environmental rights
1. Every person has the right--
a. to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being
b. to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that
i. prevent pollution and ecological degradation
ii. promote conservation
iii. secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting economic and social development.
2. The State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive realization of the rights set out in this section.

Featured Legislation

1941: The Natural Resources Act was passed. An Act to make provision for the conservation and improvement of natural resources in Zimbabwe, this legislation provides for the determination of appeals by the Administrative Court; to provide for the construction of works on Communal land for the conservation of natural resources; and for matters incidental to the foregoing.

1949: The Forest Act was enacted. It serves as an act to establish a commission for the administration, control and management of State forests, to provide for the transfer of certain assets belonging to the Government to the said Commission; to provide for the setting aside of State forests and for the protection of private forests, trees and forest produce; to establish a Mining Timber Permit Board and to control the cutting and taking of timber for mining purposes; to provide for the conservation of timber resources and the compulsory afforestation of private land; to regulate and control trade in forest produce including the use of trade names and marks in connection with forest produce; to regulate and control the burning of vegetation; and for other purposes connected with the foregoing.

1975: The Parks and WildLife Act was implemented to establish a Parks and WildLife Board; to confer functions and impose duties on the Board; to provide for the establishment of national parks, botanical reserves, botanical gardens, sanctuaries, safari areas and recreational parks; to make provision for the preservation, conservation, propagation or control of the wild life, fish and plants of Zimbabwe and the protection of her natural landscape and scenery; to confer privileges on owners or occupiers of alienated land as custodians of wildlife, fish and plants; to give certain powers to intensive conservation area committees; and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.

1998: The Water Act was introduced.  An Act to provide for the development and utilization of water resources of Zimbabwe; the legislation provides for the establishment, powers and procedures of catchment councils and sub catchment councils; to provide for the grant of permits for the use of water; to provide for the control of the use of water when water is in short supply; to provide for the acquisition of servitudes in respect of water; to provide for the protection of the environment and the prevention and control of water pollution; to provide for the approval of combined water schemes; to provide for matters relating to dam works; to repeal the Water Act (Chapter 20:22); and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.

2002: The Environmental Management Act was legislated. An Act to provide for the sustainable management of natural resources and protection of the environment, the legislation prevents pollution and environmental degradation and prepares a National Environmental Plan and other plans for the management and protection of the environment; It also establishes an Environmental Management Agency and an Environment Fund to amend references to intensive conservation areas and committees and associated matters in various Acts.

2016: The Zimbabwe National Elephant Management Plan, 2015-2020 was created to continue with Zimbabwe’s proud history of successful elephant conservation. It is made on the recognition that elephant populations in most of Africa were reduced to very low numbers by the late 19th Century. It is also recorded that between 1990 and 2006, elephant populations have grown exponentially but said growth has been limited by an escalation of poaching. This is vital owing to the fact that Zimbabwe is one of the key elephant range states and home to the second largest estimated elephant population of nearly 83,000 individuals following Botswana.

2016: The Climate Policy was presented. The Policy acknowledges that climate change is a serious global challenge and that the impacts are felt throughout all socio-economic sectors. Zimbabwe is heavily dependent on rainfed agriculture and climate sensitive resources. The increasing frequency and severity of droughts and floods, the shift in onset and cessation of the rainfall and increasing intensity of mid-season dry spells in the last 50 years have been identified in the Zimbabwe Initial National Communications (1996) as a major consequence of climate change. The Policy essentially acknowledges that the livelihoods of vulnerable people who are highly dependent on climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, are likely to be impacted by climate change in various ways. The principles underpinning the Policy include; 1. Base Climate related decisions or actions on sound data based, modeling, robust scientific findings including Indigenous Knowledge System and rigorous analysis but also on integrated, participatory approach; 2. Ensure Zimbabwe’s resilience to climate related challenges by cross-sectional engagement inclusive of public-private sector involvement in the implementation; 3. Adopt a low carbon development pathway that incorporates national developmental aspirations, vision and national programmes; 4. Build resilience to climate challenges through adaptation programmes shall be pursued concurrently with climate change mitigation programmes 5. Ensure that the climate policy be wholly owned by all Zimbabweans and be gender sensitive 6. Address implications of the past, current and future climate. 7. Guide climate adaptation and climate change mitigation investment programmes in Zimbabwe’s priority areas. 8. Inform the National Climate Change Response Strategies and Action Plans. The vision of the Policy is a climate resilient and low carbon country by climate-proofing all the socio-economic development sectors of Zimbabwe to address the national challenge of reducing Zimbabwe’s vulnerability to climate and climate related disasters, while developing in a low carbon pathway.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

The South African Police Service (SAPS) in Limpopo has partnered with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), resulting in the confiscation of illicit goods worth almost R400 000 and the arrest of 75 undocumented foreign nationals. The anti-crime blitz was part of an international effort to tackle transnational environmental crime. However, Zimbabwe is seeking international support to be allowed to sell its 130 tons of ivory. To lobby support, the nation held a pro-legalization conference which was attended by China and Japan. These two countries alone are responsible for the global demand of ivory. The justification for legalizing the sale of ivory is quite simple: the country’s population of elephants is double the carrying capacity of its national parks and the overcrowded elephants are destroying trees and shrubs that are vital for them and other wildlife. Human security and wildlife-conflict has also been cited as a reason for the legalization of poaching because people have been killed by elephants.Tourism and Environment Minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu has accused the government of prioritizing elephants’ lives over the lives of citizens. Moreover, Zimbabwe argues that it is ill-equipped to deal with poachers without the money from ivory sales, especially because earnings from tourism have dwindled due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Wildlife and animal rights organizations have also opposed the move saying: “The conference sends a dangerous signal to poachers and criminal organizations that elephants are commodities and that the ivory trade could resume, thereby increasing the threat to the species.”

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry,  Honourable Nqobizitha M Ndlovu (MP) Minister: nqostahh@gmail.com