MDC-T Environment, Tourism and Natural Resources’ shadow minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu has called for the revival of the Community Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campire) to preserve natural resources.
Contributing to debate on the 2014 national budget in the National Assembly last week, Mahlangu said Campfire would ensure villagers do not become susceptible to poachers who use them to commit crimes.
Last year, over 100 elephants were killed at the Hwange National Park and several villagers were arrested on accusations of poisoning the jumbos using cyanide.
“If you still remember, Mr Speaker Sir, last year at Hwange National Park we lost more than 100 elephants through cyanide poaching,” Mahlangu said.
“A lot of villagers were tortured by police. Cyanide, Mr Speaker Sir, is a very expensive poison ordinary villagers cannot afford to buy.
“We wonder now who was sponsoring those villagers with that cyanide?”
He said the management of natural resources should never be politicised.
“So what we are saying is that we need, as a country, to protect our national resources. We should never have any political bias,” Mahlangu said.
“We need to agree as MPs that it is my duty, it is your duty, it is our duty to protect our national resources and our environment.”
He said reviving Campfire would ensure that communities are involved in the management of resources and instil a sense of ownership in the villages neighbouring game reserves.
“We need to resuscitate our Campfire project in order to involve communities in the preservation of our environment,” he said.
“We need to involve villagers so that they do not become vulnerable to these poachers because of poverty.
“So it is very important and essential to involve all stakeholders in the preservation of our environment and our national resources.
“At the end of the day, the last defences of our natural resources are the people.”
Police were last year accused of torturing Tsholotsho villagers trying to force them to confess to using cyanide to kill elephants.