Allied Timbers controls 50 028 hectares of timber plantation in Chimanimani, of which 2 836 hectares are under illegal settlers who are burning and indiscriminately cutting down trees.
Illegal settlers in the plantations include chiefs Chikukwa, Ngorima, war veterans and Zanu (PF) officials who are eyeing the plantations trees for personal enrichment.
Allied Timbers Forest Senior Divisional Manager, Douglas Marowa confirmed the disturbances in the plantations and accused the local lands committee chaired by Chimanimani District Administrator, one Borerwe for causing the conflict between Allied Timbers and the local community.
“The local DA is the culprit because he is recommending wrongly to the community.Goverment should come up with a policy to support Forest Conservancies for the sake of our timber industry,” he said.
Marowa said Lands Committee continues to be the major driver of illegal settlement in the plantations.
“We don’t hesitate to say that DA with some forces from the police and CIO are causing chaos in the plantations. Police are not helping in anywhere because of some political forces. We have arrested illegal settlers but the police has not helped us in anywhere,” he said.
“There are people who do not want to do their job at the police. Their duty is to arrest but they are not doing so because of political pressure from politicians,” he added.
He said police have let some illegal settlers such as Chiefs Ngorima, Chikukwa and a local Zanu (PF) supporters identified as Samuel Tandire to go scot free with their crimes.
He said some politicians in the province were behind the invasions. According to Forest Act, it is illegal to settle in the forests without permission from Government or regulating authority. In terms of the law all forests are not gazzetted under land reform programme.
“We have people like Samuel Tandire and Manjonjore who are occupying a homestead in the Springfield plantation. Where is he getting power to do that? This means there are some politicians backing him,”said Marowa.
Allied Timber Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Kanyekanye said the goings on in Chimanimani is a corruption of the highest order. He described the situation as stealing away from the future generation.
He added that the illegal settlers were not being driven by genuine need for land but greediness. Kanyekanye said the situation was getting out control and there was need for urgent solutions from all stakeholders including government.
“What is happening is corruption of the highest order and this has effect to country`s development. We are stealing away from the future generations,” he said.
The Allied boss said if the situation is not stopped the country will soon import timber from neighboring countries. He blasted the police for not cooperating with Allied Timbers to stop the invasions.
“We are not getting the support law enforcement agents. They are reluctant to arrest or enforce the law,” said Kanyekanye.
There are close to 2 830 illegal settlers in Chimanimani coming from as far as Mutare, Cashel Valley, Mutambara and Chipinge.They contribute 75 percent of fires in the estates.
In Zimbabwe, forestry contributes three percent of the economic Gross Domestic Product (GDP).Post published in: News