‘Give Parliament mandate to appoint Forestry Commission’

By Nhau Mangirazi

KAROI- Parliament must be mandated to appoint the Forestry Commission so that it remains accountable to the august house than vesting authority to the minister, some citizens have suggested here.

This came out on Monday during an outreach of Forest Bill where 18 member environment, tourism and hospitality parliament portfolio committee was in Karoi, Hurungwe district as part of its outreach program.

The committee chair is Zvimba Proportional Representative Hon Concillia Masuku Chinazvavana who highlighted that the bill seeks to be aligned according to the new constitution.

She said as part of amendment, the minister seeks to appoint the commission that will help him or her in discharging his or her duties.

‘As parliament portfolio committee we have come to the grass roots so that your views will be considered as part law making process,’ she said.

However, Karoi town councilor Kudakwashe Chigumo said clause 2 seeks to give specificity and guide the Minister on the composition of the commission must be given to parliament instead of a minister.

‘The challenge we have faced as a nation is that we have strong individuals against institutions that affect progress and stifles development. We must have a commission appointed by parliament instead of an individual who may handpick his associates and this is not good for the nation. We must act to move forward by not vesting too much power on individuals,’ suggested Chigumo.

The bill amendment requires the inclusion of persons “holding recognized qualifications or demonstrable knowledge in forestry” amongst other important qualifications in environmental planning and management, finance and management, business and administration, ecology and law.
It further seeks to harmonies the Forest Act [Chapter 19:05] in principles of gender balance as provided for under section 17 of the Constitution.

Chigumo concluded that appointment of commissioners must be 50/50.

‘Saying gender balance is not enough but we must adhere to the 50/50 balance notion for commissioners‘, said Chigumo.

Another councilor, Kenston Kumuponda said for the Forestry commission to function properly must have its own court that will try and give sentences to offenders.

‘Our judiciary system is overwhelmed with other criminally related cases. When a veld fire case goes to court it will take time before judgment is passed and it does not carry weight at all. We must a Forestry court that deals with issues at hand,’ added Kumuponda.

The committee is now heading Muzarabani before going to Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, Chipinge and later Chinanimani as part of its outreach on the forest bill.