The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Use Alternative Energy Sources - VP Mujuru

Vice President Joice Mujuru has urged urban and rural communities to use alternative energy sources -- among them solar, gas and coal -- to reduce deforestation.

She was addressing villagers, environment activists and Government officials at Ambuya Jessie Mugari's homestead in Nhongo village, Mt Darwin South ahead of the National Tree Planting Day to be commemorated today (Saturday).

"Trees are life and we should look after them and other natural resources.

"Our people should use alternative energy sources like solar, coal and even gas that do not harm our environment," she said.

She urged communities to consider planting fruit trees as they generated income.

Cde Mujuru castigated non-governmental organisations that sourced funds on the pretext of assisting poor communities in Africa but converted the money to personal use.

Mashonaland Central Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Advocate Martin Dinha said Government should introduce a policy to ban the use of firewood to cure tobacco.

"The cost of destruction of trees is alarming.

"The remedy is to increase by 100-fold the rate of replacing trees," Adv Dinha said.

"There is also a need for a policy directive to prohibit all tobacco farmers from using firewood when curing their tobacco.

"They should use coal."

Environment, Water and Climate Change Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said all tobacco farmers should use alternative energy sources and issuing of firewood permits should be stopped forthwith.

Cde Kasukuwere said his ministry was targeting to plant at least 10 million trees this year and urged the Forestry Commission to give trees for free to encourage reforestation.

He said the Forestry Commission was selling a tree for US$3, which could spark affordability challenges.

Friends of the Environment chairman Mr Tendai Kandyanda, said Zimbabwe was losing about 330 hectares of forest annually and urged communities to participate in tree planting.

He said his organisation was targeting to plant at least 7 500 trees at Ambuya Mugari house, who is Cde Mujuru's mother, before planting 22 000 trees in Mashonaland Central province.

The tree-planting function was attended by 200 people who participated in the annual 500 million trees Walk from Harare to Mt Darwin, a distance of 175km.

The walk was aimed at raising awareness on the importance of tree planting and avoiding deforestation.

The inaugural walkathon was held in 2010 and was from Gweru to Harare, a distance of 280km.

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