FIRST LADY LAUNCHES ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT
First lady Auxilia Mnangagwa yesterday officially launched the Kasasa wetland project that marks the beginning of consolidated efforts by the Zanu PF government to preserve wetlands across the country.
Auxillia, who is the Zanu PF deputy secretary for environment, planted a waterberry tree at the wetland between Longcheng Plaza and the National Sports Stadium in Harare to mark the beginning of the project that will be rolled out countrywide.
Addressing the Zanu PF supporters who attended the tree planting programme, Mnangagwa described wetlands as an important resource whose demise could leave the nation poorer.
She said wetlands have been threatened by urban development as pressure is exerted on them by housing and industrial growth; and in Harare and Chitungwiza, developments have been happening at the heart of wetlands with adverse effect on the resource base itself.
“Globally, the value of wetlands was given as $15 trillion in 1997. In the case of Zimbabwe, wetlands provide a wide range of critical goods and services. They provide biological diversity where they are a focal point for a wide range of flora and fauna species to flourish,” Mnangagwa said.
“Wetlands are, therefor,e important ecosystems which provide various ecological goods and services. However, most of these wetlands particularly in Harare and Chitungwiza have been degraded due to infrastructural development and cultivation.
“This poses a danger to the communities because of compromise quality and quantity available water.”
The rehabilitated wetlands have been named after Never Kasasa, a Motoko man who has been passionate about the environment and has been active in planting trees on wetlands.
The Harare wetland had been used by the nearby residents as urban farm land. Mnangagwa said people who had planted their maize crop would be allowed to harvest before trees are planted in the whole area. She handed 10kg seed maize each to the residents and 20kg fertilisers.
Auxillia was accompanied by several government ministers including Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri, Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu and Tourism minister Priscah Mupfumira, among others as well as Zanu PF Harare provincial members.
Zanu PF Harare provincial chairman Godwills Masimirembwa said Mnangagwa’s gesture to give the residents time to harvest separates her from former First Lady Grace Mugabe who evicted villagers from Manzou without giving them time to harvest their crops.
Zimbabwe has about 1 117 wetlands, covering 793 348 hectares. About 60% of the wetlands fall within communal and resettlement areas, hence, the high level of degradation.