19 March 2009

Zimbabwe: 'Environmental Conservation Vital'

Harare — Beneficiaries of land reforms must act responsibly and use the land productively for the overall benefit of the nation, a judge of the Bulawayo High Court has said.

Officially opening the Hwange Circuit Court on Monday, Justice Nicholas Ndou said poaching of wildlife and wanton destruction of natural resources must come to an end.

"The farmers, in particular and other members of the public should have great sensitivity to environmental matters such as water protection, air pollution, soil desertification, biological diversity and nature conservation," he said.

Justice Ndou noted that Matabeleland North Province was a prime tourist destination with its majestic Victoria Falls, the big five and other animals spread throughout the province.

He added: "The positive side is that all these create a substantial economic growth, wealth and empowerment of the citizens. But, on the negative side, they create serious environmental problems."

The problems, he said, stem from two main categories of human activities, that is, use of resources at unsustainable levels and contamination of the environment through pollution and waste at levels beyond the capacity of the environment to absorb and render them harmless.

Justice Ndou noted that this resulted in ecological damage which includes inter alia biodiversity loss, pollution of water and consequent public health problems.

"It also requires measures to conserve landscapes, natural and cultural heritage and biological diversity through prudent consumption of natural resources, especially non-renewable ones," said Justice Ndou. He urged people to strive to protect the earth's living and non-living elements and its ecological processes.

He congratulated the leaders of the three main political players for the "bold and wise move" of forming an inclusive Government.

"We have, however, recently been informed of political revenge attacks. Such acts of violence are unwarranted. But they do remind us that the question of national healing needs very urgent attention," Justice Ndou said.

"I do not necessarily advocate Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as was the case in South Africa.

"All I say is that we need national healing pretty soon before the political violence rears its ugly face. We are tired of violence, let us be authors of peace," he said.

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