War vets sell firewood

War veterans who invaded the once productive Jack Hulley Farm in Mutare South during the Zanu (PF) government’s land “reform” programme are currently doing brisk business selling firewood from the exotic and indigenous trees on the property.

Indeginous trees ready for collection at Jack Hulley Farm.
Indeginous trees ready for collection at Jack Hulley Farm.

The war vets, who have failed to use the land productively, have nothing to live on except the timber, which they are felling indiscriminately. Truckloads of firewood are seen being transported from the farm to Mutare city for sale on a massive scale.

“It is so painful to note that the farm that was the hub of farming activities in Chigodora area is now in a sorry state. Those nice trees are no longer there – just huge tracts of land being misused,”said Andrew Masiyazi, a villager near the farm.

A well-known war veteran Caleb Mwatongera said: “This is our land and everything on it belongs to us. We fought for this country. We are in the business of selling firewood and I do not see what’s wrong with that. We want to survive and feed our families – you know there was drought last year.”

He said a fully loaded lorry was sold for $350 and a cord of firewood for $60.

The Environmental Management Agency Provincial Environmental Officer, Kingston Chitotombe said the agency was aware of the situation.

“We are working with other various stakeholders including the Local Government, Police and other relevant key ministries in order to control the situation. We held a meeting with these stakeholders together with the farmers last month and explained to them the implications of cutting down of trees, which speeds land degradation that would fast threaten productive farming,” explained Chitotombe.

Protracted power outages have led to an increased demand for alternative sources of energy. The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) last week launched an 18 hour load shedding programme countrywide.

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