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‘Resident’s associations must ensure sustainable exploitation of natural resources’

Residents’ associations in Matabeleland have been urged to ensure that their respective communities benefit from their natural resources.  

Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) Senior Lecturer for Developmental Studies, Tobias Guzura, encouraged the associations’ leaders to be proactive in the management of their natural resources so that they may keep track of the benefits that should come their way.

Speaking at the Matabeleland Annual Regional Summit hosted by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), Guzura said residents’ associations and other relevant stakeholders must work with experts who specialise in natural resources so that they may be able to monitor the use of their resources.

“The country is endowed with natural resources which, if properly and transparently managed, can benefit both the government and local communities alike. Community leaders must advocate for equal benefits from natural resources. There is a need to develop management coordination,” said Guzura.

Guzura said to effectively manage natural resources, communities need to come up with monitoring and evaluation strategies that will enable them to understand how to track their usage.

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“It is important as residents’ associations to know what is happening to your resources. There are some which are very difficult to track, for example, fish in Binga, Mopane worms in Matabeleland South and timber in Lupane. At least if you engage experts, you can be able to understand better the cycle of the resources that you have and how best to take care of them to ensure they don’t become extinct,” he said.

Representatives of residents’ associations who were in attendance raised concerns that in some areas government officials and/or local authority officials’ work against local communities by allowing people from outside to get first preference at the expense of locals.

Mfundo Sibanda from Lupane said timber in their area is harvested by people from outside their province and is transported to other provinces leaving the locals with nothing to show for it.

Those from Matabeleland South said their Mopane worms are harvested by outsiders and they do not benefit much.

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