Zimbabwe — The Environmental Management Agency has invoked a clause in the Traditional Leaders’ Act that empowers chiefs to impose a livestock penalty on people who start veld fires.
EMA says chiefs can fine a person a beast if he/she starts a bush fire. Failure to pay, the agency said yesterday, could result in EMA imposing a US$5 000 fine or taking the culprit to the courts. Veld fires destroyed 950 000 hectares of land last year. This year, about 200 000ha have been razed. The fire season lasts from July 31 to August 31.
In an interview yesterday, EMA education and publicity manager Mr Steady Kangata said they would ensure the law was followed. “As part of an all-stakeholder approach to protect the environment, EMA is working with traditional leaders and the police to bring to book criminals who start fires that cause so much destruction,” he said. Mr Kangata said the Traditional Leaders’ Act empowered chiefs to protect the environment.
“If a traditional leader imposes the fine of a beast on an offender, the matter is not taken further if the offender pays. “Failure to pay may result in EMA fining the person up to US$5 000 or the courts imposing the fine and/or up to one year in jail. “If either the police or traditional leaders impose a fine, EMA does not require an additional fine if the offender pays,” said Mr Kangata.