Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Power cuts and high costs causing major deforestation

Power cuts and high costs causing major deforestation

By Tererai Karimakwenda
10 November, 2010

The failure of the government to develop a stable and reliable electricity
infrastructure has continued to wreak havoc on Zimbabwe’s landscape, causing
massive environmental destruction.

Years of corruption and mismanagement at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (ZESA) have created daily power cuts and regular load shedding
that negatively affects businesses and homes. This has left many with no
choice but to cut down trees, as a business itself.

Lionel Saungweme reports that deforestation is a national problem that has
significant consequences, not least the loss of soil, washed away when it

According to Saungweme vast tracts of land without any vegetation can be
seen all over the country, and the problem has intensified as the chaotic
so-called ‘land reform program’, initiated by Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF,
spreads to more commercial farms.

“The situation is extremely bad. Imagine from 2000 when the farm invasions
began. These people could not farm so the only economic form of survival
became the cutting down and selling of trees to sell to the town locals and
others,” said our correspondent.

Saungweme explained that this problem has international consequences because
Zimbabwe is signatory to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals,
which require member nations to uphold specific standards of environmental

Current statistics about deforestation in Zimbabwe are hard to come by but
it’s known that between 1990 and 2005 the country lost 21% of its forests
and in fact has no primary forests remaining. Between 2000 and 2006 Zimbabwe
was one of the top 10 countries in the world for deforestation.
The Federation of Timber Producers estimated that resettled farmers cost the
country $1.5 trillion dollars in 2005, through illegal fires and harvesting,
basing the cost on the value of the trees. Much of the illegally harvested
timber is exported to countries on Zimbabwe’s border, but is sold for well
below its market value.
Although much of the timber is sold to make a quick buck for many it is
still an essential resource for cooking due to the governments poor
management of the power needs of the country and ZESA is engaged in an
escalating fight with residents who are refusing to pay the exorbitant fees
for electricity, which they do not have most of the time. The Bulawayo
Progressive Residents Association has organised protest marches against ZESA
in Bulawayo.

The group also submitted recommendations to the Minister of Finance, Tendai
Biti, to address their concerns in the next budget. These included
recognition of the fact that the Kariba hydro-electric power station and the
Hwange power station have a combined output of 1700 megawatts, which is
insufficient to meet the 2100 megawatts required for the nation’s domestic
and industrial use.

The residents implored government to rethink its energy policies to find
long-term, environmentally friendly sources of energy for the benefit of
future generations. The association also protested ZESA’s erratic power cuts
and load shedding, saying the parastatal should “introduce clear load
shedding schedules that will be strictly adhered to.” This would at least
enable business and individuals to plan their lives.


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