The Zimbabwe Independent
The rains and Zim’s regeneration
As rains fall round the country, let’s think about Zimbabwe’s regeneration. Zimbabwe is a lovely country, but do we love it? Or, do we love it only in the nationalistic sense?
Tourist brochures talk about the lovely flora and fauna and about the climate which is about the best in the world; they also talk about the friendly, hard-working people. They talk about our rivers and mountains and our history whose main symbol is the Great Zimbabwe Monument.
All these, as a collective, make our country beautiful. All these co-exist in the habitat called Zimbabwe literally eating each other but in a sustainable manner; the population of predators and prey always in such a ratio so as never to cause the extinction of the other.
Put simply, it’s called the balance of nature.
Unfortunately, people are at the top of the food chain and are, because of human nature, exposed to the vagaries of the seven cardinal sins. Catholics say these sins are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. It is because of these sins that we humans have a tendency to upset the natural equilibrium that exists in our environment.
We should love our country not only in the nationalistic sense but also in the aesthetic sense. In the recent past the tendency among Zimbabweans has been to extract every bit of juice from this Zimbabwe without a care in the world about her regeneration. People have gone to absurd ends to exploit Zimbabwe for short-term benefit.
One thing that has blighted the Zimbabwean landscape especially in the cities has been the construction of structures outside the city master-plan. In all civilised countries every building should conform to certain standards and should be put up in such a way it doesn’t affect the beauty of the environment.
During the run-up to all elections in the past two decades, people have been encouraged to put up permanent structures in all open spaces in the cities and towns, all this so they could vote for certain individuals. The result is that most towns and residential areas have become jungles of concrete with no semblance of order. Not only has this made our habitat cramped and ugly, but it has also strained services which have not grown in tandem with the population.
The obvious effects of this have been uncollected garbage, burst sewer systems and filth strewn all over the place. As a result, our cities haven’t left the 20th century, where waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid are the order of the day.
In the countryside unsustainable agricultural practices are standard; there is the wanton cutting down of priceless trees that can never be replaced. There is unbridled cultivation along rivers that has led to siltation. The ripple effects of these are too ghastly to contemplate. All the plants and animals that thrive in water or are sustained by river systems are in grave danger.
Eventually this will affect humans as sources of food dwindle.
As people get excited about the prospect of a good rainy season, it’s important that the government keeps its eye on the ball of environment conservation. If it doesn’t continually monitor human behaviour, the good rains may well turn into a curse. The environment master-plan, if it exists, must not only seek to protect what is left of our habitat but also to regenerate it. Our environmental laws must be stringent enough to deter any offenders who seek to destroy the environment. Ecocide must be an offence equal to any crime against humanity. People who love their country cannot be seen to be committing crimes against its environment. We are, because of our environment!