Zimbabwe — The Wattle Companys Nyanga Pine Estate recently lost 359 hectares of pine trees valued at $7 million to veld fires.
Management said the matter was arson related and accused some of their disgruntled workers for causing the fire.
We believe that that some of our disgruntled plantation workers started the fire as a result of unsettled grievances over wages currently pegged at $55 per month. Their argument was that at other estates workers were now getting $75 a month. The matter is now in the hands of the police, said a manager who cannot be named.
Manicaland province police spokesperson Inspector Leonard Chabata confirmed the case.
Although primary investigations have not linked any employees to the arson, our recent meeting with Wattle Company management and Nyanga Estate employees revealed that there were some strong emotions of displeasure by the workers over their paltry wages.
Their restlessness was worsened with the recent purchasing of new vehicles for management by the company. We therefore have reason to believe that the wages dispute could have prompted some employees, he said.
The Environment Management Authoritys Manicaland education and publicity officer, Alice Chise, attributed the inferno to lack of fire pre-suppression measures.
Her sentiments were echoed by Manicaland Forestry Commission manager Phillip Tomu who said much of the fire fighting machinery in the area was obsolete.