BY LISA TAZVIINGA
MANICALAND legislators have called on residents to desist from deliberately starting veld fires and cutting down trees, which they said were destroying the ecosystem.
Speaking at an engagement meeting for women in horticulture organised by African Women’s Initiative in Developing Economies at Sedze Business Centre in Nyanga on Friday last week, Proportional Representation MP Lucia Chitura (Zanu PF) implored villagers to be environmentally conscious.
“The reason why we no longer have enough rain is because we keep on destroying the trees that facilitate rainfall. At this rate, our country will soon be a desert and you will start pointing fingers at the government, yet it was your own doing. In some instances, these fires destroy homes and kill people. Such tragedies can be avoided,” she said.
Chitura urged chiefs and headmen to take the lead in the fight against veld fires by ensuring that perpetrators are brought to book.
Nyanga is one of the many areas in the country where veld fires are actively destroying vast tracts of forests, threatening companies and communities.
Nyanga North legislator Chido Sanyatwe (Zanu PF) said there was need for stiffer penalties for perpetrators who start veld fires.
“This one is a big issue that we will take up to Parliament. There is need to revise legislation around veld fires such that perpetrators get at least a 10-year prison sentence. This will work as a deterrent measure to this terrible habit,” she said.
Another Proportional Representation MP Esther Chikuni (Zanu PF) also buttressed the importance of sustainable use of the environment.
“People have become so reluctant to fires. You sit back as a community and watch the forest being destroyed. It is the duty of citizens to preserve and ensure sustainability in their villages. Be one another’s keeper and preserve the environment for the future of your children,” she said.
Manicaland province was hard-hit by the recent environmental disaster, Cyclone Idai, which destroyed hundreds of homes and killed over 500 people at the beginning of this year, signalling the dangers of climate change.