Cde Auxillia Mnangagwa, First Lady and Secretary for Environment and Tourism in Zanu PF politburo, met this week with the secretaries of Environment and Tourism from the 10 provinces of the ruling party to discuss their roles, promote tree-planting and to share knowledge that will help them develop their communities and nation.
This is because the First lady, who is also the country’s Environment ambassador, has in a short time this past year led to the planting and awareness of more than 10300 trees.
Amai Mnangagwa encouraged the provincial secretaries to embrace all members of their communities and work together to plant trees and preserve the environment.
They were also asked to remember and help the elderly and the less fortunate in their local communities.
Yesterday’s educative meeting featured stakeholders from the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Tourism and Hospitality Industry, as well as the Forestry Commission, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe, Environmental Management Agency, National Monuments and Monuments of Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), which took turns to educate the audience on environment and tourism.
In her remarks, First Lady said that it was incumbent on citizens to protect the environment as well as promote sustainable management practices and management systems.
“With a new team created out of an intern election of the party it is evident that the party’s Tourism and Environment portfolio are poised for new ideas.
“However, we should be able to transcend effectively and deliver on the party goals.
“We must have a national view of our policy-making within our provinces. This is in line with our obligation to the national interest as leaders whose legitimacy comes from the broad aspirations and communities we represent. To foster continuity and meet our long-term strategic goals, the third edition should include the relevant themes from our last session.
She said, “We must consolidate all of our resolutions with an objective to make vision 2030 become a reality,” to applause.
She said that the meeting was an opportunity to review the mandate from the party constitution to establish and implement policies affecting tourism and environmental management.
The First Lady stated that the Zanu PF constitution must be incorporated with wider national and international policy aspirations in tourism and environment.
“Therefore, this meeting must help produce ideas that will be relevant in assisting us all to create a schedule of activities that will promote tourism and the environment. The workshop’s policy deliberations must have a tangible impact on the lives and daily activities of our participants.
“Beyond the rhetoric, all of our sector has a great job of ensuring that Zimbabwe’s economic growth is meaningful as espoused in the “Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo principle”.
She stated that the workshop would allow us to fully utilize the opportunities offered by the tourism sector in order to achieve long-term economic goals.
The mother of the nation stated that she was thankful that God spared Zimbabwe in the second half of 2021 from the wrathful natural disasters.
This was not to be taken as an excuse for complacency. The nation had to be even more determined to protect the environment throughout the country.
“Comrades, friends over the years we have dealt with many natural disasters like cyclones or climate change.
“At the exact same time, we have failed to fulfill our mandate to conserve the environment, which has led to excessive depletion in many forests, wetlands, and wildlife, among others.
“More that 60% of Zimbabwe’s wetlands are disappearing due to human activities.”
“Our insatiable desire to grow ourselves through the construction of houses and other types physical infrastructure has led us to expand into our wetlands.
“In the course of the process, we have deliberately overlooked the ecological value wetlands in controlling temperature change, preventing floods, and purifying our waters bodies among other important environmental preservation imperatives.
“As a party or government, we have a responsibility to protect the environment and promote sustainable management and practices.
“This is also because of the fact the success of our tourist sector is highly dependent on how we interact with and preserve our environment,” she stated.
The First Lady stated that her travels in all provinces had given her exposure to many cultures and traditions that have served as anchors for the nation.
“Thus, the rich cultural themes found in our rural homes that are cared for by women not only provide a site for our deep-rooted cultural preservation but also make them a medium of tourist attraction.
These spaces offer an alternative way to attract tourists investment to Zimbabwe’s traditional tourism sites.
“I challenge you today to think of new ways to mobilize people through grassroots-based tourism.
“Communities should be active participants in modeling local tourism from the cell to the provincial level. This is because a lot of our social cultural heritage can be attractive to tourists if it is well packaged and promoted.
“This will create employment opportunities for our youths, and women, and contribute to the socio-economic development in our country.”
The First Lady asked the nation to follow Covid-19 health and hygiene regulations for social distancing and proper wearing of masks.
Secretary for Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mr Munesu Munodawafa, said that the secretary for Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry was asked to encourage provincial secretaries for Environment and Tourism to play a leading role with regard to veld fire management in order to protect people, livestock, and property from fire.
He encouraged them to join the national cleanup campaign together with their communities to achieve Vision 2030.
Mr Munodawafa stated that there were opportunities for waste management in projects such as green-energy technologies, waste recycling and waste to energy, remediation technology, and eco-tourism.
He said that wetlands protection offered opportunities for consolidated gardens, orchards and fisheries, as well as irrigation schemes.
He gave the Masvingo example of Njovo, a wetland.
Mr Munodawafa also spoke out about the effects of deforestation. He said that forests are responsible to recharge underground aquifers. Deforestation is increasing the loss of native trees that take a long time before reaching maturity.
“It is causing an increase in siltation within our internal water bodies. He suggested that we all should mobilize our communities to plant trees in support the First Lady’s tree-planting campaign.
The provincial secretaries pledged to share with their communities the knowledge that they had acquired.
They also commended First Lady for her leadership role in environmental conservation.
Cde Edith Kagoro, Zanu PF’s national secretary for Environment and Tourism, expressed gratitude to the First Ladies for yesterday’s educative meeting.
“On behalf of secretaries to Environment and Tourism, thank you for the opportunity learn more about our department. Amai showed us today what our work is all for.
“In our communities, in the provinces where we are from, we have been shown that we as secretaries of Environment and Tourism do a great work of going around the communities and assessing the environment. We have also been made to realize that we have to collaborate with the entire community, regardless of status.
“We have learned that littering is an issue and must be prevented in order to maintain the health of the community.
“Diseases like Typhoid and Cholera thrive in places where there is dirt. We must practice good hygiene. We have learned that exotic and indigenous trees must be preserved.
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“For trees to grow, they need a long period of time, but the time it takes to destroy them is only a matter seconds. She explained that this is where oxygen and medicines, as well as shade, come from.
Cde Mebo Zombi, the secretary of Environment and Tourism in Midlands, was equally grateful.
“Amai taught us that it is important to always remember our elderly and help them. We will leave this place with the words of Amai and go out to help our elderly and those less fortunate who have no one to care.
“We will all play our part in conserving our wetlands based on the lessons we have learned today. I have learned that I cannot teach people how to protect these trees if I don’t have any fruit trees or trees in the yard. To help my community learn something from me, I must first plant fruit trees in my backyard. We learned the importance of planting trees after seeing how animals that lived in forests close to our communities were evicted by the removal of trees. In areas like Jakani, there were zebras. She said that she has learned to form teams to clean the environment frequently.
Cde Kudakwashe Matsaka of Binga said that he appreciated the First Ladies’ efforts to preserve the environment.
“We appreciate the opportunity that her excellency, the First Lady, has given us. We have been excited by the challenges she has presented to us as provincial members.
“She has set the tone for us to work aggressively. The tree planting initiative, which she has given us to undertake, is the most important. We will begin immediately as Mat North province. Amai also challenged us all to investigate the problem of wetlands and the possibilities that exist in that area. She also challenged us to investigate environmental issues and encouraged us work with EMA on clean-up campaigns. He stated that we were taught to love everyone and work with everyone.
Cde Washington Zindoga, Mashonaland West Province, said that he would take what the First Lady had told them to the district level and cell levels sharing the information.