By GILBERT MUNETSI
The Zimbabwe Environmental Journalists Association was officially launched on Thursday, September 29, at a colourful ceremony held at the Forest Hills Resort in Vumba, 32km East of the Eastern Highlands capital, Mutare.
Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister (who is also the ZEJA patron), Francis Nhema, officiated at the function as the Guest of Honour.
Forty-three journalists representing various media houses in Zimbabwe - who also form the ZEJA membership - as well stakeholders from the environmental sector witnessed the launch, which was punctuated with pomp and fanfare.
The latter were drawn from such institutions as the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Forestry Commission and companies which carry out mining activities within the region.
Minister Nhema said the establishment of ZEJA will go a long way in capacitating the general Zimbabwean populace in issues of environment and natural resources management, adding that even people in the remotest parts of the country should be served as they have for a long time suffered from a lack of timely dissemination of proper and adequate information.
“What we are gathered to witness here is a very rare event indeed. Rare in that it has taken the media – which happens to be the eyes and ears of this nation – this long to finally realize that it is imperative to come up with a body that serves this particular sector.
“Rare also in that there is not one media house that is not represented in the Zimbabwe Environmental Journalists Association. There is print, electronic, freelancers …and even the element of gender has not been forgotten as there is also, within the Association, a portfolio representing women and yet another for the physically challenged.
“Going through its constitution and looking at what ZEJA seeks to achieve , one is left with no doubt that here indeed is a group of people who have a great passion for their environment at heart, and have seen the need to learn, educate and share with those who need information pertaining to how best the environment can be protected for the benefit of both the current and future generations.
“A closer look at the set-ups of most media houses in Zimbabwe and elsewhere would reveal that almost all aspects of life are represented by way of the different desks that exist within them .
“We have sports, business, news, health (in some cases even HIV and Aids in particular), agriculture, feature desks, and so on and so fourth. But environment desks have been conspicuous by their absence in the newsroom setup for a long time,” Minister Nhema said.
He was,however, quick to remind those present at the launch that “it’s not about the noise we may be seen to make, but the footprints we leave in our strides to fulfill any given challenges.”
According to the the Environmental Management Agency Provincial Manager for Manicaland, Kingstone Chitotombe, 43 news articles were published in four newspapers within the past four months, a development he attributed to the establishment of ZEJA.