IN October last year Zesa commenced cutting a 14-metre clear-cut line from the Madziwa Mine to Natural Stone Export Company mine in the eastern side of the Umfurudzi Safari Area. This line will b
e 40 kilometres long of which 34 will go through the park.
There are many problems concerning this line which are listed below:
* No Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been done as far as is known. If there is one, no stakeholders have seen it. An EIA is required under the Environmental Management Act;
* The line criss-crosses the main access road something like 12 times before reaching Hippo Pools. The line could have been less obvious by off-setting it from the road by 100 metres or so;
* Probably up to one million trees will be felled. Some of them important
specimens for their size, beauty, age, species and rarity. No effort appears to have been made to spare or avoid some of these trees;
* The road, or should I say track, network is not adequate to take the type of traffic Zesa will be using to construct and maintain this line, especially in the rainy season;
* The line will pass through the edge of Hippo Pools Wilderness Camp cutting through an important patch of riverine forest. After many representations to Zesa by many parties they still refuse to consider diverting around Hippo Pools Camp. The diversion route, by the way, would have been shorter (because it cuts the corner), to the Zesa route;
* A safari camp, such as Hippo Pools, is normally protected by a three kilometre radius “exclusive zone”, which is intended to protect the tour operation and its clients. In this case this requirement has been totally ignored;
* The Umfurudzi Safari Area is in existence primarily for its wilderness qualities. It is the most accessible true wilderness area to Harare, being only 150 kilometres away. Once the powerline is constructed, these wilderness qualities will be permanently affected;
* Once the powerline has been constructed, development, especially of mines, which a safari area has no legal protection against, will take place along the powerline route. National Parks should be seriously concerned about this aspect because effectively, in this case, they will lose the most valuable part of their estate as a worthwhile tourist destination;
* The route will be seriously detrimental to the following ecological zones:
* Umfurudzi River Valley;
* 20 kilometres of the Mazowe River Valley;
* the Nyahowa River Valley;
* the Ruwangwa River Valley; and
* the Chizinga Mountain Range.
There is an alternative route going north from Madziwa Mine and then east
following the Natural Stone Export Company main access road. This route would only go 15 kilometres through the park and have minimum disruption on tourism. The road network there is good, designed to carry the 30-tonne Natural Stone Export Company transport rigs.
From all the above, it’s fairly obvious that Zesa are above consulting stakeholders and mere mortals like ourselves, and I’ve heard similar complaints from many other sources.
The question also arises as to why the National Parks and Wildlife Authority have allowed Zesa to proceed without an EIA or stakeholders involvement? It is obvious that Zesa have no respect for National Parks estate (nor probably anyone else’s estate) and one wonders who is really in control of this land and what threat Zesa could impose next to our wildlife areas and national parks.
Hippo Pools Wilderness Camp.