FORESTRY Commission board chairperson Charity Manyeruke has said the commission has failed to pay its workers for the past three months due to a financial squeeze.
BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE
Presenting before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism, Manyeruke said the commission owes approximately $2 million in salaries and statutory obligations of up to $5 million.
“At the present moment, we are behind by three months on salaries amounting to about $2 million. In terms of statutory obligations we have arrears of approximately $5 million,” Manyeruke said, adding that salary arrears were accrued when government stopped paying their salaries.
“This is because in 2016, we were weaned off from government budget in terms of salary payments, despite having many obligations that need financing,” Manyeruke said.
The commission is currently relying on revenue realised from Ganda Lodge in Hwange.
“We are lacking capital in terms of human resources to be able to monitor all crimes against forests. For example, we need at least one person at each roadblock to better enforce laws on the ban on tree cutting.
“We are currently relying on our one lodge, Ganda, which has 16 rooms together with a small amount of sales of trees to pay salaries of the commission workers,” she said.
Manyeruke said it was important that the Committee of Environment and Tourism lobbies government to intervene by allocating financial resources to assist the commission to carry out its mandate.