Lupane timber at centre of furore

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The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has reportedly barred a Bulawayo company, Mukuvisi Sawmills, from harvesting timber in Lupane, on the grounds the company’s application had not been approved.

The company’s managing director, Joshua Gona, said they submitted their application to EMA seven months ago, but had not received the green light yet.

Percy Mcijo, regional officer of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), said the company’s officials had since approached the labour body complaining that the delay had crippled its operations, hence its failure to pay employees.

“We understood the situation as a labour union. If the company is not allowed to harvest timber to boost its operations, where can it get money to pay workers?” said Mcijo.

He said the company derived its income and profits from timber and if it was denied access to harvest that timber, it was difficult for it to pay its workers.

Bulawayo EMA manager Chipo Mpofu said companies intending to harvest resources anywhere were obliged to submit environmental impact assessments to her organisation with details on how they planned to prevent environmental hazards during operations.

She said those documents must be vetted by several stakeholders before approval, hence the delay in Mukuvisi Sawmills’ application.

“The community where timber harvesting is to take place must agree with the operations,” she said.

“Stakeholders must also comment over such projects and this is not an overnight process. If Mukusi Sawmills submitted papers and if they meet the requirements they will be permitted to harvest timber from that area as long as stakeholders agree with them.”

Mpofu said companies harvesting natural resources should not be allowed to deplete them or cause environmental hazards in the area.