ZIMBABWE: Village heads have been urged to take a leading role in educating and apprehending people who start veld fires or refuse to take part in fire-fighting activities.
Launching the Provincial Fire Week at Deve Primary School in Hurungwe, Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said communities must desist from starting veld fires.
She said the fires destroyed property, lives, biodiversity and the environment’s aesthetic beauty, adding that it was the role of the traditional leadership, particularly village heads to be at the forefront in educating those who were ignorant about the effects of veld fires.
“Village heads should also not hesitate to prosecute people who started veld fires, including those who refused to take part in fire-fighting efforts while school children should also report those who start veld fires to their teachers so that they are brought to book,” Minister Mliswa-Chikoka.
She said communities should also set up fire-fighting teams at village level which would work with environmental monitors.
“Forest produce should benefit people in the communities through grass combing, thatching and baling for livestock feeding or selling to drought prone areas,” she said.
Rural communities, she said, should also engage in ventures such as bee-keeping while urging Environmental Management Agency to assist in establishing such ventures.
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka urged rural communities to embrace President Mnangagwa’s national clean-up campaign.
“Our communities must also take heed of the Presidential Clean-up Campaign declaration, which calls for cleaning your homes, workplaces, religious shrines, churches and institutions every first Friday of the month. This is for the cleanliness of our environment and our health,” she said.
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka said innovation was also required for communities to add value to their waste urging villagers to stop deforestation and look at alternative crops since tobacco curing was the major driver in depletion of forests.
The launch started with a tour of Sekuru and Mbuya Chizuzu’s homestead which had been identified as a model rural home because it conforms to hygiene and fire preparedness standards.
The fire-preparedness standards exhibited included fire guards around the home and cattle pens measuring at least 9m in width.
Also demonstrated was the use of biomass for thatching goat pens, toilets and fowl runs as well as bath rooms, cattle hay and compost manure.
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka also planted a baobab tree at the homestead.