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Report on Legislative Representation and the Environment in Zimbabwe: The Case of MP Paul Mazikana
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)
March 2004

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As elsewhere in the world, linkages between natural resources management, democratization, governance and human rights have become increasingly apparent in Zimbabwe. The national economy relies on resource extraction, while resourcedependant rural communities comprise 70% of the population. The challenge for law and policy makers (legislators) is to think creatively about how best to address past abuses and promote more democratic and sustainable resource management in the country.
1 Without legislative intervention and return to public confidence in the legislature, legislative representation of natural resource is likely to remain elusive.

A reasoned interpretation of Zimbabwe’s legislation, policies and the common law and policies will reveal that there are incentives and disincentives that are found within legislative representation in the country. For example national legislation regulating both village governance and natural resources is still based on the primacy of centralized state authority as the ultimate arbiter of "national good". Legislators can play a vital role in natural resource conservation, utilization, protection and rural development. Natural resources in developing countries are mainly located in rural areas. However, these are the same areas and people that face poverty, illiteracy, insecure resource tenure rights, non-existent to inefficient social services and all the ills of living in rural areas. The governance, control, access and ownership of natural resources in Zimbabwe’s rural areas are issues that dominate many debates.

Since the rural areas and even urban areas face such environmental problems, there are elected representatives who are supposed to represent their interests at the Parliamentary level and national level. These people are entrusted and mandated by people to speak for them. The legislature can be defined as a template for public participation in decisionmaking through representation. The legislature is an important institution that should link people with the government. It is supposed to be a forum for people to air their views through their representatives to the government. It is not practical for all people to converge at parliament to register their concerns, so this will be done through elected representatives and sometimes appointed representatives who are supposed to be the voice of the people.

In terms of natural resources management it is therefore vital to deal with elected representatives on an on-going basis to strengthen the relationship between legislators and constituents and increase the possibility of legislators acting on behalf of their people.2 However, the environment is not prioritised, so it plays second fiddle to other issues. The environment will only become an issue if it brings about publicity for the decision makers or if there is an environmental crisis whereof the politicians would want to be identified as having addressed the problem. There are a lot of environmental issuesranging from land use, forest management, water management, wildlife production, pollution that are important for the life of people but are not viewed as matters of national importance.

In an attempt to understand legislative representation and environmental representation in Zimbabwe, this report will focus on a number of thematic areas. The report will first outline what the research is about and why it is important and timely. The methods for the collection of data that were employed during the research will also be noted. A special feature of this report will be a focus on theoretical foundations of legislative representation. This includes a look at the historical development of legislative representation, the legislative and policy framework for legislative representation and a look at the general practice of legislative representation in the country.

After reviewing the theoretical aspects of legislative representation, an analysis of environmental representation in Zimbabwe will be done. In all cases the report will go through an analysis of the history of legislative and environmental representation from the colonial period through to the post-independence period. Through the environmental lens the report will reveal the incentives and disincentives of legislative representation to democracy, popular participation, justice and equity in Zimbabwe.

A special feature of this report is the case study of Hon Paul Mazikana who represents Guruve North Constituency in Parliament. The report will outline the activities of the MP in representing the human-wildlife conflicts in Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) villages in his constituency. This is an environmental issue that has great implications for legislative representation, environmental justice, democracy, economic development and social equity. In that regard the impact of his involvement to try to address human-wildlife conflicts will be reviewed.

Linked to the case study will be a discussion of the incentives and disincentives of legislative representation in Zimbabwe. This will be done through four thematic areas that is; accountability, autonomy, authority and ambition of legislative representation. These conceptual themes have been applied to assess what motivates the case study MP and his fellow MPs to represent the interests of their constituencies. Such interests include healthy, education, economic and political interests. The four themes have been applied on the ground as questions to measure the advantages and disadvantages (incentives and disincentives) to Members of Parliament in representing and servicing the environmental interests of their constituencies.

More specifically, the incentives and disincentives of environmental representation will be looked at. This will reveal why the case study MP decided to represent the issue of human-wildlife conflict within the CAMPFIRE villages in Guruve North. In this case we will be focusing on the national interests, private interests and political party interests that motivated the MP to represent or not represent his constituency’s environmental interests.

An important part of this report will be the policy recommendations that will be outlined at the end of this report. These recommendations will be informed by the research findings. In particular it will look at the policy and practical changes that would encourage other Members of Parliament to perform their environmental representation roles. Further, it will also profile the necessary steps to enhance the implementation of the proposed policy changes. These next steps will state what needs to be done after doing such a research in Zimbabwe to immediately implement the recommendations. However, there are constraints that are likely to be faced in implementing the policy and legal reform to improve legislative representation will also be noted in this report.

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1. Owen Lynch and Emily Harwell, Whose Natural Resources? Whose Common Good? Towards a new Paradigm of environmental justice and the national interest in Indonesia, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), January 2002 Page xxvi
2. "The Legislature and Constituency Relations",

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