By Nhau Mangirazi
KAROI– Traditional leaders within Hurungwe do not want their powers clipped by the Forest bill as they want to control newly resettlement areas to protect forests and degradation.
Chief Abel Mbasera Chundu said it is uncalled for that newly resettled farmers no longer respect traditional leadership.
Chundu said, ‘Originally, anyone resettled at new farms came from a chief but now they are on the loose and have caused a lot of damage in forests. We want our powers as chiefs to enforce the laws against veld fires. Under the Traditional Leaders Act we have a role to play for compensation on matters involving veld fires before it is a criminal offence. We hope that this bill will give us powers to enforce such penalties as well. We can’t allow forest damage to go unchecked if we are given our mandate as traditional leaders,’
His comments came after Hurungwe Proportional Representative Hon Goodlucky Kwaramba sought clarification on role of traditional leaders in curbing veld fires.
Hon Kwaramba said, ‘What will be the role of chiefs in order to preserve forests?
However, Chief Lovemore Karengesha Nematombo said he has since evicted several villagers who invade wetlands.
‘Some illegal settlers are on wetlands and we have evicted them as they are an eyesore. We are acting to preserve forests and there are some places that deserve respect traditionally,’ he added.
The outreach of Forest Bill had the 18 member environment, tourism and hospitality parliament portfolio committee in Karoi under Hurungwe district.
The committee chair is Zvimba Proportional Representative Hon Concillia Masuku Chinazvavana.
She highlighted that the current clause 6 Section 68 provides that all disputes between land owners or occupiers, regarding the sufficiency of land cleared for the creation of fireguards, are referred to the secretary responsible for environment.
However, the new clause seeks to decentralize the dispute resolution mechanism to forest officers who should work with environmental officers.