THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry will soon tour some parts of Matabeleland South to assess the damage caused by the poisonous cactus rosea tree that is threatening to destroy flora and fauna in the province.
This was after the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) reported that the plant was rapidly spreading in the province and there was a high risk that it would spread to other parts of the country.
The portfolio committee’s chairperson Annastancia Ndhlovu yesterday urged the government to release $2,5 million required by EMA for the total eradication of the plant.
“The committee will sit and deliberate on the oral evidence given by EMA. There is going to be need for us to go on the ground to see the extent of damage that the plant has caused,” Ndhlovu told Southern Eye.
She said the plant had the potential of destroying people’s livelihoods as it destroyed other plants and was poisonous to livestock, wild life and even humans.
“It (the plant) reverses the government’s move of restocking the national herd under the ZimAsset economic blueprint. Matabeleland provinces are traditional cattle producing areas that the government is targeting to boost,” she said.
“It has to be dealt with because EMA said the plant has potential to spread and grow in other places in the country.
“We encourage government to release the funds because I asked EMA if they would be able to deal with the plant if the money was made available and they said they would,” she said.
Ndhlovu said EMA had already embarked on community outreach programmes so that people would be made aware of the deadly plant.
The plant has so far reportedly affected 11 people and 41 livestock within six districts in Matabeleland South.
Three of the 11 affected people were hospitalised after coming into contact with the plant.
Giving oral evidence before the portfolio committee, EMA officials revealed that the plant, which was declared an alien evasive species in 1990, had wreaked havoc in the districts of Beitbridge, Gwanda, Motobo, Insiza, Bulilima and Mangwe.
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.
To date, the plant has spread over 3 000 hectares in Matabeleland South. It leads to the development of wounds that become septic in animals if not treated.
The devil plant can kill livestock and people if victims do not get medical attention.