NEWLY-appointed Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere says he was not demoted, but was given greater responsibilities to find solutions to the issues at the core of the country’s values and challenges.
Report by Wisdom Mdzungairi
This followed reports that Kasukuwere’s removal from the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment ministry last week torched celebrations at the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board by employees who detested his management style.
But, the minister, who took over from Environment minister Francis Nhema, yesterday took a swipe at reports that he has been offered a lesser position.
“When one tries to do a spin and look at each move the leadership makes as though it was directed to an individual, I think that’s wrong,” Kasukuwere said. “I have been assigned before into other responsibilities and for one to look at this issue with blurred vision, it’s wrong to say the least. The leadership of this country from time to time decides what, when and who to assign at any time depending on their expertise which tasks one has to carry out.”
He added: “If anything, I was reassigned to deal with matters where our population has huge expectations. The environment provides all of us with life. We breathe within an environment, climate change affects all our economic activities. Climate change is very important to look at given droughts, the changing weather patterns.
Careless management of our environment will take a toll on our economy. I am now minister of life.” Kasukuwere, who at the weekend toured the country’s flagship game reserve Hwange National Park where 42 elephants were poisoned by cyanide recently, said he was shocked by the rampant poaching in the countryside.
“Poaching levels are disturbing,” he said. “It’s about individuals trying to make money out of a national resource and it’s seriously cause for concern, using cyanide.
“In Hwange there is a huge disaster. We must all fight with a goal to supporting government efforts to eradicate poaching. We have to carry out programmes that will save our animals, and in that vein we would want to see communities defending their turf in terms of the animals. We will improve our intelligence to unmask the mafia behind these poaching rings.”
He urged the judiciary to impose deterrent sentences to send a clear message to would-be poachers. “We must roll our sleeves to protect our flora and fauna. We should fight this menace. We must investigate who actually is behind this poaching. We know it is not poor people, but the rich using the poor,” he said. Kasukuwere said he saw first-hand the effects of climate change in Hwange as hundreds of animals were dying due to water scarcity.
Together with Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, they saw carcasses of animals strewn all over in the vast game park.
“Hwange National Park requires water augmentation. We must rehabilitate the existing water points and we must find other water sources. We are pleased that our friends are already working around the clock introducing solar-powered boreholes to ensure the scarcity of water is dealt with. We call upon the private sector to help us, and save flora and fauna in our flagship national parks,” he said.
Kasukuwere also said he would table before Cabinet climate change and water policies which his predecessor had been working on and also identify other water sources in the country. The minister, variously described as “combative and excitable”, was involved in several confrontations during his tenure as Indigenisation minister, with the most notable being his fallout with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono over company seizures.