Environment, Water Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri has blasted the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority Management (Zimparks) for denying communities the right to fetch grass to thatch their homesteads while preferring to burn parks, killing animals in the process.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Officiating at the just-ended Hwange-Sanyati Biological Corridor symposium in Victoria Falls on Thursday, Muchinguri said locals had rights to harvest grass in national parks.
“Why can’t you allow them to come in and cut the grass instead of always burning the park? This season had high biomass due to abundant rains and the park is rich, so people must benefit from that,” she said.
“We have hotels that are thatched. Why can’t you harvest that grass and sell it to them or even to export it to other countries? We can make lots of money than to always burn the fires that you fail to control in the end.”
Zimparks normally burn parts of national parks just after the rainy season to control the growth of grass before it gets too dry, an act that endangered wildlife.
Muchinguri said universities needed to be used as key players in providing research institutions for long-term sustainability of resources.
“We need to research more on resources and see how we use them, otherwise we will forever remain behind. Make use of our Universities for research for instance this region is rich in Mopane takes 60 years to grow, so plant more of those in research and Zimbabwe becomes a destination for that. We need to do much more on communities where we can put up fisheries, agro-forestry, just next door in Zambia; they have sustainable fisheries for their people.
“We claim we are educated and yet we are a lagging behind. Also look at Namibia, they have come up with orchards for wild Amarula and there is business and I am sure this province has plenty of those, why can’t you do the same before rushing to South Africa to buy them,” she said.
Muchinguri urged on community participation for integrated management.