THE government is still to raise about $2,5 million required to assist in eradicating a poisonous cactus rosea weed that is wreaking havoc in Matabeleland South, senators have said.
Last week senators appealed for the speedy release of funds, as the plant was fast spreading in the region.
Moving a motion on the proliferation of opuntia fulgida, Beitbridge Senator Tambudzani Mohadi said the expected $2 514 418 had not been raised by the government.
“In an effort to scale up and replicate the current eradication programmes in all affected communities, the agent requested for financial support amounting to $2 514 418 from the government in 2012,” she said.
“The funding is yet to be received.
“I would urge the government to assist if funds are made available.
“We know very well that our government does not have sufficient funds, but there is an animal creeping near which will consume us all.”
Mohadi said the rate of weed destruction was very slow, with only 20% of the affected land being reclaimed due to lack of resources.
Senator Sithokozile Mathuthu requested the government to declare a state of disaster so funds could be released to affected areas.
Last year, the Institute of Development Studies at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) cautioned legislators against rushing to implement costly mechanical methods in an attempt to eradicate the poisonous cactus rosea weed.
Legislators proposed the cutting down and burning of the plant, saying about $2,5 million was needed for the task.
Mohadi said to date the plant had invaded more than 3 000 hectares of land in Gwanda and Beitbridge districts and was spreading to other semi-arid districts of Bulilima and Insiza. The plant leads to the development of wounds that become septic in animals if not treated.
The cactus plant, also known as the devil plant, can kill livestock and people if victims do not get medical attention.
The effects of the plant gained prominence after Nust researcher and lecturer Buhle Francis was credited by the National Assembly for her role in shedding light on the plant.
Francis has won international awards for researching on the invasive plant.