Friday, September 25, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: Mujuru Slams Rise in Veld Fires; MOU Signed With Namibia

Mujuru slams rise in veld fires

Herald Reporter

Government will not tolerate the wanton destruction of the environment, particularly through veld fires, Acting President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.

She warned that stern measures would be taken against anyone found guilty of such offences.

Launching the National Environment Policy and Strategies in Harare, the Acting President appealed to farmers and the general public to be responsible and responsive when it came to the prevention and management of veld fires.

"One of the most visible and devastating forms of environmental degradation prevalent in Zimbabwe is veld fires.

"In this regard, I want to appeal to farmers and the general public to be responsible and responsive when it comes to veld fire prevention and management," she said.

She challenged Zimbabweans to adopt a more positive attitude towards the environment.

"Government will not tolerate wanton destruction of the natural environment, and the distraught brought by this wanton loss of lives and property is unwarranted and unacceptable.

"I therefore direct that, with immediate effect, stern measures be taken against anyone who is found guilty of environmental degradation, particularly through veld fires," Acting President Mujuru said.

She said the natural environment was the foundation of human existence as it provided food, medicine, building materials, water, air and minerals among other things.

"Yet, by our current actions, we are destroying this asset at an alarming rate.

Today, species are being lost at a minimum rate of 100 times that of natural extinction. What is worse, the process is irreversible."

The Acting President said environmental knowledge was still highly inadequate.

"But we must resist the temptation to use our relative ignorance as an excuse for postponing action.

"There is no escaping the task ahead. What we know is more than enough to spur us into positive action to manage our natural environment."

She said it was worrying that environmental issues were treated as marginal.

"It is not a priority for most of our people in business, Government and society at large.

"It is always argued that there are more urgent issues to attend to on the national budget.

"This attitude has to change. Yesterday’s future is today, so we cannot afford to keep postponing corrective measures," she added. Acting President Mujuru observed that the relationship between environment and development had previously not been accorded adequate attention by decision-makers and the citizenry at large.

She called upon all Government departments to harmonise policies and legislation with the national environmental policy and legislation to guarantee a balance between conservation and development.

The overall thrust of the National Environmental Policy and Strategies is to avoid irreversible environmental damage, maintain essential environmental processes, and preserve the broad spectrum of biological diversity.

It places the environment at the centre of economic activities with the aim of reducing poverty and improving quality of life.

"As we launch our Environmental Policy and Strategies document today, we should make sure that it cascades down to the lowest level of our society.

"We should ensure that the principles contained therein are fully understood," said Acting President Mujuru.

Zim-Namibia sign MoU

Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe and Namibia have signed a Memorandum of Understand that will see the two countries sharing technical expertise on land reform and resettlement.

The MoU, a third agreement between the two countries since 2003, would see them exchange expertise on land and resettlement through the exchange of experts in land valuation, land survey and other related professions.

The MoU was signed yesterday by Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa and Namibian Minister of Lands and Resettlement Mr Alpheus Naruseb in Harare.

Speaking at the signing ceremony yesterday, Minister Murerwa said Zimbabwe and Namibia had always shared excellent relations, especially during the two countries’ liberation struggles.

He said the two Southern African neighbours continued sharing the same goals of socially and economically empowering their people.

"The co-operation between Zimbabwe and Namibia to share expertise is part of our efforts to share and tackle similar challenges we face in our agrarian reform programmes," he said.

"The agreement is a continuation of earlier arrangements that explore projects to expand areas of co-operation, while consolidating what Zimbabwe and Namibia have built over the years," he said.

Minister Naruseb said the war waged by Zimbabwe and Namibia against their colonisers was for land and until the purpose of land reform was attained, efforts to redistribute it should continue.

"It is in this spirit that Namibia continues to rely on our older and more experienced sister to draw expertise and technical knowhow to strengthen our efforts.

"Learning from your experience, land acquisition can be concluded," he said.

Minister Naruseb said Namibia was faced with a major task having attained only four percent of the country’s targeted 15 million hectares by 2015.

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