MR MAKESURE Ncube, a carpenter with Lupane Business Association, a trust that has provided a place for local carpenters to work as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), says timber is very expensive to locals despite them being the custodians of the forests.
Like many Lupane residents, Mr Ncube suggests that selling raw timber by the Forestry Commission and Lupane Council is robbing locals of the benefits of value addition and beneficiation, which in the process would bring skills, timber technology, jobs, revenue retention, and development.
“Timber should be sold at affordable prices to locals. Currently it is US$38 per cubic litre and US$460 per cubic litre of sawn timber. It is beyond our reach. We have many concerns because many truckloads are going out of Lupane, but we haven’t seen benefits of having that resource locally.
“Lupane, the capital of Matabeleland North, is endowed with forests of timber. The most common timber trees are mukwa, rosewood, teak and mahogany, which produce export products. Despite the harvest of wood and its sales locally and internationally, many Lupane residents and villagers have remained unemployed for years,” Mr Ncube added.
The newly appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kusile Rural District Council (KRDC), Mr Wellington Mthembo, said that the issue was pertinent, but he needed to review the records.
“I am new in the office, just three weeks, I need to go and check the records, as for now I am occupied by the impending visit of the President,” said Mr Mthembo.
Lupane Business Association Trust has an accommodation capacity of three people per each of its nine sheds. For years the association has been hailed as a success story of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“Our forefathers protected this inheritance for us to benefit. And now, if we fail to do the same, our children will not benefit from these forests. We can’t continue cutting and exporting raw timber. We must create employment through value addition and gain more from processed timber,” added Mr Ncube.
Mr Tawanda Mazango, the Programme Co-ordinator of Lupane Youth for Development Trust, also bemoaned the continued exportation of timber, citing that mature timber trees were being threatened with extinction.
“Over the years, there has been overexploitation of this finite resource without due care to regulate its exploitation. It is harvested for transportation, mostly to bigger cities, with the bulk finding its way to the so-called “Lupane Timbers” in Harare. The ideal situation is to locate this company in Lupane, thus offering value addition to custodians of the prime resource,” he said.
Records seen by this publication shows that Lupane Kusile Rural District Council has a monthly quota to harvest 400 cubic metres from the Forestry Commission, and most of the companies since 2010 have been gathering 200 to 250 cubic metres.
The Lupane Youth for Development has advocated for a by-law by the Kusile Rural District Council to ban the transportation of unprocessed timber outside Lupane. — The Citizen Bulletin