Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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ZESA, politicians should be held accountable for massive forest destruction

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 

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 

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 

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 

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

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 

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.


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