By Joyce Mukucha

The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry has appointed new board chairpersons for Forestry Commission and Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks).

The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Mangaliso Ndlovu has announced the appointment of Mrs Veronica Gundu Jakarasi as the Forestry Commission Board Chairperson and Dr Agrippa Sora as the newly appointed board chairman for Zimparks.

Appointing the two chairpersons in Harare on Tuesday, Honourable Ndlovu stressed the need to strengthen the corporate governance structures and urged the new appointees of the parastatals to expeditiously and meticulously execute their duties and ensure the nation’s development.

“It would be recalled that last year that’s 2020 after consultations with His Excellency, the President, I appointed board members for parastatals under my ministry, and these included board members for Zimparks as well as some members for other parastatals that include Forestry Commission.

“At that stage, I indicated that announcement of the board chairpersons will be announced at a later date. I want to acknowledge and appreciate boards and management for the two parastatals in improving your operations and financial performance,” he said.

In appointing Mrs. Gundu Jakarasi as the Board Chairperson, Minister Ndlovu said he expected the Forestry Commission to redouble its efforts in the afforestation programme.

“While in prior years, national tree-planting efforts led by the Forestry Commission would plant 10 million trees or less annually and I’m pleased to note that the figure almost doubled this past year. That is commendable but I still believe we can do much better. In this regard, our target for 2021-2022 and beyond should be above 40 million trees annually.”

In targeting the above, he said, Forestry Commission was being challenged to improve on the tobacco wood energy programme.

“This because as a country we all appreciate tobacco’s immense contribution does to the economy through foreign currency earnings, job creation and positive impact on livelihoods but we also know that a lot of trees are cut in the process of tobacco curing.

“I challenge your board to strengthen the management and deployment of the afforestation fund so that our rate of planting trees for tobacco curing exceeds the rate of harvesting on an annual basis,” said Minister Ndlovu.

Further, the Forestry Commission was challenged to speed up research on fast-growing exotic trees suitable for tobacco curing.

He added that he was also aware of a number of potential investments under the commission’s portfolio that need to be consummated and urged the parastatal board and management to finalise this and unlock the value of the various concessions that are under its portfolio.

Concerning a process by Forestry Commission of quantifying carbon contributions, Honourable Ndlovu said, “This is an important process that I want to urge you to expedite so that we a country we begin to benefit from our carbon efforts.”

Forestry Commission, he emphasised, was also expected to establish nurseries and re-establish the lost nurseries indicating that the parastatal will play a pivotal role in the Presidential Rural Horticulture Scheme.

“For us, we expect that we will be facilitators and enablers in this noble programme. I accept that the momentum that has been created in Forestry Commission is maintained.”

With regards to Zimparks, Minister Ndlovu challenged Dr. Sora to focus more on research.

“Zimparks besides its obvious role as a conservation agency has also got a research component which I feel needs to be broadened and deepened. One of the board’s main challenges now is research and being a scientific research institution they need skilled personnel.

“In this respect, I expect your board this year to institute skills and placement audit,” he said.

Further, acknowledging that conservation in Zimbabwe is largely funded from internal resources, Minister Ndlovu tasked Zimparks to review the lease conditions of its various conservancies and make appropriate recommendations to the government.

As Zimbabwe subscribes to the Principle of Sustainable Conservation, Minister Ndlovu said the wildlife including iconic species were facing extinction due to human-wildlife conflict.

To address this, he encouraged Zimparks to seek necessary support aimed at conserving Zimbabwe and its wildlife.

“As a result, our iconic species such as elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffes and leopards extinction elsewhere are actually growing in numbers here. One of the biggest challenges is resulting from the foregoing human wildlife conflict.

“Unfortunately, we can not sell our Ivory worth over US$600 million under the current cities regulations. I would therefore expect Zimparks to engage cities and various Member States to assist Zimbabwe in its conservation efforts and also in dealing with human-wildlife conflict.”

The newly appointed board chairpersons were also reminded to familiarise themselves with the Corporate Governance Act so that they do not run foul to it.

Additionally, Minister Ndlovu told both chairpersons that as they design and execute their projects, they should always remember the need for them to be impactful and in line with the National Development Strategy 1 and Vision 2030.

“Anything short of that is unfortunately not enough. I thank you for accepting to serve your country and these roles to challenge you to leave a legacy in this respect,” he said.

Minister Ndlovu also encouraged the two appointees to emphasize team work when executing their duties.

“We are together as a team as the President has been always reminding that the Government is one and we are contributing to the attainment of Vision 2030 and running with NDS 1.”