CHIREDZI – The Chiredzi Rural District Council (RDC), Environmental Management Authority (Ema) and Forestry Commission have sought help from the Joint Operations Command (Joc) to help stem the charcoal trade which is blamed for the decimation of Mopani forests in the district.
Joc is made up of the country’s security cluster comprising the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS) and Central Intelligence organisation (CIO).
Chiredzi RDC chairperson Edward Matsilele claimed the charcoal business had since ceased to be a mere threat against the environment and had become a more worrying national security threat.
"The district Joc, Ema and Forestry Commission undertook a blitz operation to fight the scourge of firewood and charcoal sales. The blitz was carried out with very little resources at our disposal but it was a huge success," said Matsilele.
He said he hoped the operation will be replicated across the rest of the district.
"Not all areas were covered but we will soon be back once all logistics have been put in place. We appeal for assistance from our councillors and other stakeholders to make sure we conserve our environment. Climate change is real, and our actions exacerbate this climate change. Disasters like floods, drought and extreme weather conditions are a manifestation of climate change.
"The charcoal trade is also a security threat, since in some places the proceeds are used to fund international terrorism. So let us be careful, we may be funding terrorism through charcoal. Some people are abusing the livelihoods argument. There are better options of earning a living,” Matsilele.
In Chiredzi North, newly-resettled farmers are earning a living by cutting down trees on a large scale to make charcoal which is sold on road sides or to big buyers from Harare.