EASTERN NEWS| 'Zanu PF in partisan food distribution'

MUTARE - ZANU PF officials in Chimanimani East are denying agricultural inputs to everyone they suspect to have voted against their party in the just-ended harmonised elections.

The practice has been so brazen such that some people in Muchadziya and Ngangu had inputs confiscated after being issued as the political environment continued to degenerate into chaos after a peaceful campaign and voting period.

Elderly women sobbed while a Zanu PF election agent exchanged blows with a known MDC supporter at a business centre in Muchadziya last Saturday.

Those who had been given inputs in Ngangu village had them withdrawn as ruling party officials sought to punish everyone they perceived to have voted against their party.

Zanu PF Manicaland chairperson Mike Madiro said he had not heard of any such complaints but said this was not in line with his party’s position.

“I’ve not heard any such issue, so it is difficult for me to comment but that is certainly not... (in line with) our party policy.

“The president has reiterated that no one is going to starve because their political opinion differs from ours.

“We want everyone to be confident with our party’s leadership and we hope that those reports are not true,” Madiro told Eastern News yesterday.

Councillors’ role in agricultural inputs distribution has been cited as a weakness that subjects the process to politicisation, critics say.

What particularly miffs locals is that there appears to be nothing but greed behind it.

“Although the councillor for Muchadziya won, he is either just being plain greedy or pathologically vindictive to even deny people who voted for him only because the MDC had a few hundreds. He lacks appreciation of an election as a democratic process,” Batsirai Murenje, a losing MDC candidate, said.

Opposition activists are, however, vowing to target Zanu PF officials and demand their shares of the inputs at their homes if government fails to make a quick redress.

“We are going to visit these goons in their homes and demand our share if government does not put an end to this madness.

“These inputs are paid for by all of us as taxpayers and we will not allow such abuse of State resources like this,” an MDC official said.

He said Zanu PF was behaving like sour winners and their conduct was akin to criminalising opposition politics.

Meanwhile, political tension continues to build across the countryside with an MDC election agent’s home being torched in Nyanyadzi this week.

Daniel Hanyana of Hot Springs in Chimanimani West had his hut burnt down allegedly by a well-known Zanu PF supporter in a matter that has since been reported to the police.

Although efforts to get a comment from Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Tavhiringwa Kakova were not successful, the case was reported at Nyanyadzi Police Station under RRB number 309735.

Landmine clearance exposes Vumba

MUTARE - The clearing of landmines along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border has opened up the country to new risks — Vumba Mountain’s Miombo forests are now at an increased mercy of Mozambican charcoal producers.

Having cleared their own hardwood forests to charcoal production, the absence of booby traps has made the eastern highlands’ eco-tourism hub particularly attractive to Mozambicans. And they are now crossing the porous border in droves.

Environmental government departments — Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), Environmental Management Agency (Ema) and Forestry Commission (FC) lack sufficient presence in the area to contain the wood poachers.

Police, on the other hand, lack determination to assist, or at worst are easily corruptible. This leaves local residents and hospitality industry operators to manage the crisis.

Only last week, 23 firewood poachers were arrested by scouts. They were only cautioned and released — handing them over to local police would have been an exercise in futility, the scouts say.

“If you hand them over to the police you will see them walking back across the border as if nothing happened,” Nelson Bandura says.

Vumba tropical rainforest has a unique flora and rare habitat — including an impressive over 420 bird species packed in its relatively small space offering arguably the best bird watching vantage point on the African continent is in dire strain.

Tree poaching is threatening to leave its breath-taking mountains bare and completely destroy its capacity to sustain such uncommon bird species like Swynnerton’s robin, and Zimbabwe’s rare Chirinda Apollis as well as animal species like the dwarf chameleon, blue monkey and blue duiker.

The increasingly balding mountains have for long been taunted as a cradle to some of Zimbabwe’s unique flora and fauna.

The forest, in spite of all its fame, is not a gazetted forest exposing it to be also unsustainably exploited commercially by individuals, communities and corporates.

Its Msasa woodlands and Montane forests, among where the rare Star of Africa Oak stand, are being broken and retreating further into the misty mountains limiting the aerial freedom of the elegant blue monkeys endemic to its canopies while snares litter the forest floors threatening the uncommon little blue duiker and unique dwarf chameleon among others.

This is despite it having an impressive catalogue of insect, bird and animal life among its tropical vegetation that receives an average of 1 800mm of rainfall each year.

Vumba is key to both Mozambique and local riverine systems as many key rivers had their sources in the mountains.

The famous Chikamba Dam in neighbouring Mozambique is supplied from the mountain. The banana crop in Burma Valley is irrigated from rivers whose sources are in the mountain. Being the source of Mupudzi River which feeds the aptly named Mupudzi dam and goes further to feed Odzi and Save boosting its capacity to supply irrigation schemes that are dependent on the mighty transnational river.

Loss of vegetation in the mountain threatens all this.

Vumba’s unique ecology can be a major attraction for ecotourism which offers the entire Eastern Highlands sustainable income if kept pristine and natural.

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