Zimbabwe — The Chiefs Council is working towards harmonised penalties that will deter perpetrators of environmental crimes, as cases of loss of property and the destruction of the environment caused by veld fires continue to rise.
Environmental degradation has weakened the natural resource base on which human activity ultimately depends and veld fires have become a major threat to the environemnt.
This has irked traditional leaders, who are mooting the idea of harmonised penalties for pepetrators of environmental crimes who are sometimes allowed to go scot free.
Chiefs Council President, Chief Fortune Charumbira bemoaned how veld fires have been at the centre of resources and property destruction.
He says that plans are underway to have penalties that are deterrent enough such as fining the offenders to pay beasts as fine.
We have been meeting for consultations on how to deal with the issue of veld fires. We have resolved that we should have hamonised penalties such as fining beasts so that would be offenders are dettered from comiting the offence, said Chief Charumbira.
Environmentalists say the problem of veld fires requires collaborative efforts including the adoption of necessary fire preventive measures by communities.
A number of fire outbreaks were recorded last season and one farmer in Mashonaland Central Province lost tonnes of maize, a combine harvester and other farm equipment.
Veld fires are occurring despite severe laws promulgated by the government to prevent people from starting fires that destroy vegetation.
In Zimbabwe, almost every fire is started by humans, most of whom are aware of the consequences.