Gideon Walter Mutanda, Talent Murwendo, Lawrence Sawunyama


Zimbabwe’s Environmental Management Act has provisions promoting the conduct of environmental impact assessment (EIA) prior to project implementation to protect the environment and environmental rights. Using data collection methods inspired by phenomenological study, this paper discusses if EIA processes by a gold mining company had mainstreamed or marooned ‘access rights’ which are the cornerstone of environmental democracy. While the Zimbabwe’s EIA policy is applauded for covertly mainstreaming environmental democracy, research findings suggest that there exist gaps in the policy framework, policy and practice in promoting comprehensive environmental democracy. EIA processes are done to fulfil legal obligations but with little motivation to protect community interests as participation is symbolic. It is recommended to redesign EIA policy and embed broader attributes of environmental democracy such as locals’ participation in all EIA stages and inclusion of experts on community issues in the EIA review panel to promote fairness, inclusivity, transparency during EIA.

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environmental democracy, access rights, meaningful participation, environmental impact assessment, Zimbabwe, mining

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