Fury as court sets charcoal peddler free

EnviroPress Reporter

The Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe has expressed dissatisfaction over the ruling handed by the Chiredzi Magistrate’s court on one Financia Ziduche who was apprehended after being found in possession of over 200 bags of Mopane tree charcoal.

Ziduche, from Mutare, was found not guilty when he was hauled before the court a fortnight ago and was given his charcoal back.

Ziduche was charged for contravening the Forest Act but the court found no sufficient reasons to secure a conviction.

Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe Masvingo provincial manager Edwin Machokoto said he was disappointed with the court outcome and said they were going to make an appeal.

“This is a sad day for the environment and for our forests. This here was a clear case but unfortunately our courts saw things differently.

“The evidence was all there but the court ordered for the accused to be given his charcoal back. Our forests are being threatened by these charcoal peddlers because the law is not weighing heavily on them.

“We are definitely going to make an appeal on this one,” said Machokoto.

Due to the biting power crisis in the country, charcoal peddlers are recording brisk business as people go in search for alternative power sources.

The Mopane tree, which is known for its charcoal properties, has come under severe stress in Chiredzi and Mwenezi districts as peddlers from as far as Harare and Bulawayo pay locals to cut down the trees and burn them before extracting the charcoal.

The Mopane tree is a key resource in Chiredzi and Mwenezi districts as it provides nutrition for their cattle and Mopane worms for sustainable livelihoods.

The decimation of the tree species puts the districts in a fix as this resource helps them adapt to climate shocks through selling the Mopane worms since rain-fed agriculture remains unreliable.

This project was made possible through a partnership with the Southern Africa Trust. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent that of the Trust or its associates. www.southernafricatrust.org