Shurugwi South MP Annastacia Ndhlovu has made a passionate plea to the government to provide funds for the eradication of a poisonous weed that is poising a danger to both livestock and human beings in Matabeleland South.
Ndhlovu of Zanu PF last week introduced a motion in the National Assembly that received support from across the divide.
She said 1 500 households had been affected by the cactus rosea weed and suggested a project to clear the plant over the next three years involving the villagers.
“In view of drought, if a food for work project model is implemented, a $2 514 418,00 budget outlay will support the 1 500 households to reclaim their land,” Ndhlovu said. Of this, equipment will cost $185 750 while the rest is for food. Approximately,
3 000 hectares have been invaded in Matabeleland South Province.”
She said the most affected districts are Beitbridge, Gwanda, Insiza, Bulilima, Mangwe and Matobo.
“In the worst affected districts; Gwanda and Beitbridge the total area of pasture and arable land have been reduced by 0,1%,” the MP said. “The weed has invaded 27 wards and severely affected the livelihoods of the 1500 households.
“A total of 41 livestock, which included 21 goats, 16 cattle and four donkeys were injured as a result of attacks by the plant.
“Out of these livestock, 28 had eye injuries, resulting in total blindness, forcing farmers to sell or slaughter the animals.
“Livestock deaths from such injuries include four donkeys, 27 goats, 58 fowls and six dogs.”
Ndhlovu said a headman in Matabeleland South has been hospital for the past two months after he came into contact with the weed.
“A certain MP (Nomalanga Ndhlovu) – she has gone to play netball (in Zambia); but she has a daughter who was pricked by this same plant and she is still struggling in getting her sorted out,” the MP added.
“It has some cancerous tendencies, it is like a virus and the speed with which it spreads, I am even terrified.
“In some instances, households have abandoned their traditional cropping lands due to the invasions and the most affected are in Gwanda district.
“I also think that there is need for more awareness arising in the province itself and even nationally, because I am not sure if every other person in Matabeleland South is aware of the dangers of this species.”
She said villagers were ignorant about the dangers posed by the plant with some even using it as flowers at their homes.
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba said if the government does not act immediately, people of Matabeleland would feel marginalised.