ZESA, politicians should be held accountable for massive forest destruction

MUTARE - Dumisani Jani (42) (not his real name) was retrenched from employment 10 years ago leaving him with no source of income to look after his family.

But due to continuous power cuts in the city, Jani’s life is back on tracks as he takes advantage of the continuous long power cuts by illegally cutting down trees in a nearby forest for resale. On a good month, Jani said he earns US$450 a month from firewood sales, twice the money earned by a civil servant.

Owing to persistence long hours of load shedding in many high-density suburbs of Mutare, destruction of forests for firewood purposes have become rampant, leaving a little chance for the forest to recover in time.

suburb of Sakubva.

The once green forests of Dangamvura have been reduced to a visible desert as residents indiscriminately cut down trees as alternative source of energy.

Forests, mountains and farms close to the city have been the source of firewood and have unfortunately been left bare, with no chances of recovery in near future.

Every morning the streets of Mutare are littered with women and children who have dropped out school and have taken selling firewood as their full time job.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Police and Forestry Commission officials have fought running battles with firewood vendors, but it seems they have ‘relaxed’ after discovering that they were fighting a loosing battle.

Police officers have been blamed for confisticating firewood for personal use at their homes instead of enforcing law to stop environmental degradation.

A local environmentalist said if the load shedding continued at the current rate Zimbabwe would become a desert, as people were not replanting trees at the rate they were cutting them.

A visit to mountains in Dora Dombo and Dangamvura proved that environment was under siege and there was need for responsible authorities to take action.

She added that the mountains, which used to provide beautiful scenic view were now bare, an indication that all was not well in the country that used to generate excess power for export.

Villagers from Dora Dombo said the endless power cuts that have greatly affected industries in the city were a blessing in disguise as they were earning a living out of it.

A small bundle of firewood cost around US$1 sometimes they barter trade with sugar, salt and mealie meal. Villagers said due to scarcity of the United States dollar they have managed to survive through that.

Resident interviewed said they were aware of the consequences of destroying the environment such as climate change, but they had no choice against erratic power supply.

Other residents complained that other sources of energy such as paraffin and gas were expensive.

Paraffin cost US$1 for a 750 ml bottle. Residents said all the blame should be shouldered on Zesa because it was charging them tariffs, which were far beyond their reach, but giving them shoddy service.

Residents said Zesa announcement that they should brace for more power cuts was likely to trigger further cutting down of trees in the province.

While customers have complained that they were getting electricity for less than four hours a day, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmittion and Distribution Company-a subsidiary of Zesa have threatened customers with outstanding bills to settle their bills or risk disconnection.

The notice reads:

Commentators have said Zesa should come up with lasting solutions to current power cuts and should know that they would be held accountable for exacerbating the destruction of the environment through its long and unscheduled power cuts.

Post published in: Environment

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