Leonard Ncube in Hwange
TRADITIONAL leaders in Matabeleland North are set to benefit from biogas energy and industrial hemp cultivation projects to be introduced by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).
The pilot energy project is set to start at the chiefs’ homesteads before being cascaded to the whole community as an alternative sustainable energy source to reduce cutting down of trees for firewood which is fuelling deforestation.
Speaking at the Matabeleland North 2019 Provincial Commemoration of the Traditional Leaders’ Day here on Wednesday, ZNA Chief of Staff Quarter Master Staff, Major General Hlanganani Dube, said Government is aware of the challenges faced by the province hence the army had taken it upon itself to carry out capital projects. He said the province is under siege from people who cut down trees for firewood hence threatening forests.
“We all know that our country is facing a serious electricity crisis which Government is seized with. The Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is thinking of starting a biogas programme as a sustainable way to protect our environment and reduce cutting down of trees for firewood. This will also ensure cheap access to energy. We will start this pilot project at chiefs’ homesteads,” he said.
Maj Gen Dube urged communities to embrace the programme and encouraged the people of Matabeleland North to start growing industrial hemp. “It doesn’t need a lot of rain or water hence we have to try it in our region which has perfect conditions for the crop,” he said.
Maj Gen Dube said the traditional leaders’ day is an important occasion as it promotes the upholding of culture and Ubuntu, peace building and development of the country. Earlier, Maj Gen Dube and his team were briefed by traditional leaders on challenges facing the province. Chiefs complained about drought which is killing livestock, segregation in distribution of food aid, poor state of roads and schools infrastructure, deforestation, poaching and other challenges.
“As the army we will diligently follow and implement what was agreed upon at today’s meeting so that we help each other preserve culture, maintain peace and conserve the environment. You as traditional leaders should execute your duties diligently,” he said.
Maj Gen Dube said the army had intervened and provided transport for distribution of food aid after realising that many were struggling to carry their grain home from distribution points. Unscrupulous transporters were demanding payment in grain from beneficiaries. The army plans to refurbish Madutsheni and Bantuqala primary schools in Bubi district, as well as construct Simunyu Primary School in Lupane where learners use pole and dagga classrooms.
The army will also help in the construction of Lupane State University hostels. Deputy President of the Chiefs’ Council, Chief Mtshane Khumalo of Bubi, commended the army for its developmental work in communities.
“The army has done a lot of projects in our communities. We are enthused by the idea of a pilot biogas project and we have agreed that we select one chief per district for the pilot project before it spreads. This will help in reducing the cutting down of trees in our communities especially in reserved state land and resettlements where the practice is rife,” he said. Traditional leaders received inputs comprising fertilisers, maize and sorghum seeds from Agriseeds, Seedco, and KLEIN Karoo (K2) seed companies as well as grocery hampers from the ZNA. – @ncubeleon