|Veldt Fires – Nation Living on Borrowed Time!|
|Wednesday, 05 September 2012 09:38|
By Mhlomuli Ncube
Following a successful land reform programme that has seen over 350 000 families benefit from this noble initiative, the state of land ownership patterns will never be the same again. To all true Zimbabweans, the herald of the agrarian reform has placed the black indigenous person at the pinnacle of possession of this all-important factor in Zimbabwe’s economic matrix – land.
It cannot be downplayed that the agrarian reform still has many elements that are in the opposition camp waiting to point out at failures. This brings in the element of persistent veldt fires which continue to ravage the nation. Driving on all major highways, one is confronted by these uncontrolled fires eating away at the precious forests and grass, not to mention all other organisms and plants that grace our ecosystem.
While this might not mean much to the average person, underlying these fires should be a fact that those who are responsible for starting them are well aware of the end result. Therein lies the bigger conspiracy. Why would Zimbabweans suddenly become so reckless by starting up all these fires? When did they start being so irresponsible when this was one area which the country used to effectively manage, as evidenced by the rich ecosystem diversities which have always been the envy of many and the attraction of so many tourists?
This is not the time for the responsible authorities and all the Zimbabweans at large to bury their heads in the sand. The ministries of tourism, environment and agriculture, in conjunction with local communities, the police and all other stakeholders, should really come up with a serious taskforce to arrest this problem. When these fires continue burning at such intensities, it is not only Zimbabwe’s reputation which remains at stake. It is the agrarian reform which the nations prides itself on which is the main target.
There is no doubt that those who perpetrate these fires are enemies of this revolution which has benefitted Zimbabweans so much and which was the main reason why the country went to war. All genuine citizens of this land must beware of the Second Coming of the people’s enemies who will go to any lengths to discredit Zimbabwe as it charts its course based on a system that has always thrived on agriculture. If you destroy agriculture in a country like ours, you have struck the very core of the people’s livelihoods.
Somebody then must understand that the veldt fires are not only an assault on the environment, but are also an arrow aimed at the regime itself. Never mind how tactics in the political arena change. Certainly, there is some fish which has begun smelling badly. The question to be answered is: why have Zimbabweans become so reckless with their environment which they loved so much just a few years back?
Beware of the grand master plan of these political schemers who want to project the average Zimbabwean as not only a poor environmental manager, but also as one who doesn’t care a bit at all. This is far from being a fact and neither is it an exoneration of those careless and suspicious fire starting acts.
The approach to addressing these veldt fire outbreaks should emphasise that the target in this puzzle is Zimbabwe’s economy. This brings in a very crucial element of the country’s efforts to rebuild the national herd. Riding on a precipice of a severe drought, this has impacted on our cattle farming industry. Cattle are the source of livelihood for millions of families and have become an important salvation especially in arid regions like Matabeleland South.
At a time when our economy has gone through so many challenges directly brought about by the illegal sanctions, the fires are eating away at the few remaining pastures. While we have seen cattle prices in those same areas coming down to as little as $150 per beast, lack of pastures further creates a more desperate situation for livestock farmers, their families and the nation at large. This is where all those who are interested in the matrix of our politics should come in. In essence, the destruction of pastures resulting from these veldt fires has a direct effect on the precious cattle which have provided the much needed incomes in so many Zimbabwean families. If those families lose their cattle, the next source of assistance will be the non-governmental organisations. Their interests and role in propagating certain agendas in Zimbabwe are on record.
The lessons contained in this veldt fire are as endless as the fires that continue to ravage the precious lands. The nation needs to wake up to the fact that as long as fires continue raging on, Zimbabwe is living on borrowed time. The call is for all Zimbabweans to work together and see beyond these fires the real conspiracy which is to destroy the nation’s land and all that it stands for. It’s not just a fire, the arrows are aimed at the people’s livelihood so that when it is destroyed, then can they accuse their own government for failing them.