THE need for strong weather and climate services to reduce vulnerability and promote sustainable development is far more important to ignore in the face of erratic rains in the country. This, in the past few agricultural seasons, has left 2,2 million Zimbabweans vulnerable and in need of food aid.
Viewpoint by Wisdom Mudzungairi
This is serious, indeed. And last week, Africa’s green economy protagonists — mainly climate scientists, policy makers and agriculture experts among others — met at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to identify current gaps and future needs in the provision of weather and climate services.
The gathering was not only useful, but insightful as it also discussed a range of potential solutions through the implementation of the Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology (Weather and Climate Services), that can positively impact on the lives and livelihoods of African communities.
Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere chaired a number of high level discussions, and no doubt came out convinced that more needed to be done to help boost agricultural produce in the country.
Here is a man who perhaps never thought he would, to be precise one day become Zimbabwe’s minister of “Trees” according to his detractors, although he now calls himself ‘Minister of Life’.
He has settled in well in his new Cabinet portfolio. Helped by his booming voice and full of confidence, Kasukuwere should at least not turn everything upside down in his quest to effectively discharge his mandate.
He should also not destablise departments under his ministry by targeting particular individuals, but should work hand in glove with his staff impressing on them that it is no longer business as usual.
Unfortunately, conspiracy theorists do not only live among ordinary citizens. State actors, in this case directors and senior staffers in the various government ministries, and very awkward ones at best, see nothing useful about proposals by new ministers, in-country groups which include civil society calling for “civilised engagement” with government, but rather classify them as conduits for neo-imperialists expansionist agendas.
It was disclosed during various deliberations at the climate change conference that the top officials always considered any projects brought forward by the non governmental organisation (NGOs) to have a sinister motive.
There is no doubt that Zanu PF won the election and that it is time to deliver yet it appears that some in middle ranks in government have not pulled themselves out of this foolish thinking.
It appears that most of the top civil servants have experience in their jobs, but not qualified for the jobs and, therefore, would want to protect themselves by labelling fellow countrymen as agents for regime change in this fight against climate change effects.
To them it is even calamitous for civic groups to receive monetary support from allies abroad. However, the polarised political situation in Zimbabwe exposes the hypocrisy of accusing civic groups of receiving support when even government begs for the same funds to continue the politicisation of life in Zimbabwe.
It is believed the Hwange ecological disaster could have been avoided had top government officials at the then Environment ministry considered funding options proposed by Zimbabweans in environmental NGOs locally and abroad.
It is sad that named top officials even had the audacity to block a multi-million dollar environment programme funded by Zimbabwe’s partner — Comesa — presumably because it was to be championed by a highly qualified local Zimbabwean scientist they had not recommended. Apparently Comesa is headed by Zimbabwean Sindiso Ngwenya who many will not doubt his patriotic credentials. The multi-million dollar climate change mitigation programme was now being implemented in 19 Comesa member States apart from Zimbabwe.
Isn’t this an indictment for a country which provided a chief executive, but feel that he should be directed who to work with in his country given his stature? It is things like these that Kasukuwere should look into and work with the Civil Service Commission to iron them out by rationalising the Department of Environment, Climate Change office and the Meteorological Office department.
This speaks to the need for the political leadership and cooperation to strengthen and mainstream weather and climate services into the decision-making and development planning process in key sectors such as agriculture, water resources and transport.
No doubt that our weak adaptive capacity increases the country’s exposure to climate change and limits its ability to benefit from advances in climate science. Many National Meteorological and Hydrological Services have limited resources.
It is hoped that this time Zimbabwe will ask the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology to provide political support to strengthen national meteorological services to enable them to perform their mandate and thus contribute to transformative development in Africa.
Kasukuwere should in two years, position weather and climate services as essential components in poverty alleviation, disaster risk management and sustainable development efforts.
This strategy is a key component in the implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Service in Africa to increase the provision of user-driven climate services, especially in the priority areas of food security, water management, disaster risk reduction and health.
Clearly, in some top officials who have been in their positions for endless periods, we have people that now firmly believe that they have the right to use all means necessary, including intimidation, to protect their positions.
Every Zimbabwean has a right to a meaningful say in the governance of his or her country, and is just as important as the right to life!