An MP has urged the government to deploy soldiers in Matabeleland South to help eradicate the poisonous cactus rosea tree, which is threatening to decimate livestock.
The plant is rapidly spreading in the province and there is a high risk that it would spread to other parts of the country.
It has spread over 3 000 hectares in Matabeleland South and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) says it needs $2,5 million to eradicate it.
Contributing to debate on the motion on the unchecked proliferation of the plant in Matabeleland South, Buhera Central Ronald Muderedzwa (Zanu PF) said since the country was not at war, government should dispatch the army to the province.
According to the Hansard, an in-house parliamentary publication which records debates verbatim, Muderedzwa said the government has to act now to avert disaster.
“This problem will become national in character. What is happening there is that the method of spreading of that plant is quite disturbing,” he said.
“Animals are attacked during the process of pasturing and people, even cars are used as vehicles for dispersing the seeds of that plant.
“I would like to believe that the purpose of bringing this motion to the House is to find a way forward.
“It is my view that in the short term we need to assist EMA by providing the funding that is required and in that process, we can also mobilise government agencies like the army to go there and assist because right now, they might not be aware of such things happening within the borders of this country,” he added.
“We are not at war with anybody and the defence forces could assist, if properly requested.”
The plant has reportedly affected 11 people and 41 livestock within six districts in Matabeleland South, which are Beitbridge, Gwanda, Matobo, Insiza, Bulilima and Mangwe.
Three of the 11 affected people were hospitalised after coming into contact with the plant.
Cactus rosea, also known as opundia fulgida, is also known as mloyi in Ndebele which means “witch” due to the manner in which it affects other plants, animals and humans.
The plant has spread over 3 000 hectares in Matabeleland South.
Zanu PF Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka claimed the weed was introduced by the white settlers who were fighting blacks.