Latest News Editor's Choice

Business / Local

Timber firms rile Lupane villagers

by Staff Reporter
22 Oct 2020 at 07:23hrs | Views
Timber processing firms are in the eye of a storm amid accusations they are failing to improve the lives of villagers in Matabeleland North province where they are harvesting hard wood from one of Zimbabwe's biggest natural forests.

Villagers in Lupane District say they are wallowing in poverty and have not benefited from the timber harvesting firms.

Chief Mabhikwa, born Vusumuzi Khumalo, said villagers are struggling to make ends meet despite being endowed with vast natural resources in the area.

He said the traditional leaders were not consulted when the timber harvesting companies were engaged.

"The local authorities here never consult us when engaging the companies to harvest the timber and when we try to engage the companies they simply tell us that their Memorandum of Agreements are with the Rural District Councils and not with us and this results in us failing to monitor the exploitation of timber," Chief Mabhikwa said.

He said the communities have approached him for the correction of the situation and have also tried to engage the authorities but with no success.

"Roads are damaged as the timber harvesters transport the logs to factories where they are processed into timber.

The community has approached me and they want the situation to be addressed but we have failed to engage with the local authorities." Kenias Sibalo, from Manase Village where a timber company is harvesting, said they are forced to look after the trees but then they do not benefit anything when it's time for harvesting.

"We remain in poverty as when these trees are harvested we do not get anything; we only remain with a damaged environment.

The council deceives us with regards to protecting our natural resources for our benefit but practically we are getting nothing from our efforts and it is so much disappointing," Sibalo said.

Kusile Rural District Council CEO Christopher Chuma said they were let down by the companies as few were remitting money to the authority.

"Hardwood is an expensive type of timber and so we cannot let companies make school benches as this would be a serious waste of the product.

Instead, we normally call for the companies to purchase furniture for the schools as a way of corporate social responsibility but they disappoint us as they just fold up operations and leave when their time has expired," Chuma said.

 Officials from one of the timber processing firms, Fazhao Investment, refused to comment when approached by Business Times.

The biggest natural forest in Zimbabwe found in Lupane measures a total of 286 165 hectares of hard wood. The forest comprises solid hardwood such as Rhodesian Teak, Rosewood and Mahogany.

Source - businesstimes

Get latest news by email: