ENVIRONMENTAL patron First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday led from the front in reviving national clean-up campaigns which had waned owing to Covid-19 restrictions which made it difficult for people to participate in the programme and decried the surge in veld fires and deforestation.
President Mnangagwa declared the first Friday of every month a national environmental clean-up day to foster a culture of cleanliness among the country’s citizenry.
Amai Mnangagwa yesterday joined villagers at Nyika growth point, chiefs and Government officials where she led in the sweeping and clearing of garbage heaps, giving the growth point a new face.
She said contrary to views that clean-ups were largely for people in urban areas, everyone had to play a part as it was good for their health to do so.
“This clean-up day is not new. It was long pronounced by the Head of State Cde Mnangagwa. I was made patron of the day through the works I do. At home, the mother is responsible for cleaning the home and she knows where she keeps the sweeping brooms and knows how best to sweep her house and how many corners it has. The mother cleans up all the corners,” she said.
“I want to thank you heartily Masvingo because you are making use of this day and remembering it. Some think because this is a rural area, clean-ups are for urban centres, that is not correct.
“Next time you should gather all the residents to come and clean up because this litter is not coming from the cities. This litter is coming from the areas where we live. They should come so that we work with them. It is not like being assigned work, but these are personal teachings to clean up where we stay. If you clean up your mind and your heart, all things will fall into place.”
Amai Mnangagwa said people should not wait for the designated day to clean the environment, but should make it a daily routine.
The mother of the nation expressed dismay at poor management of the environment and veld fires caused by residents.
“When I was on my way to this place, I was shocked at the fires you have caused here in Masvingo. You have burnt forests yet there are God’s creatures there. We also have cattle, our livestock. Donkeys are being burnt by the fires we start with our own hands.
“We have cut down trees indiscriminately, now see what the wind is doing here. There is no windbreak and if we reach this stage, there will be climate change. We are doing ourselves a disservice by digging our own graves while we are still alive.
“Climate change is real. If you look right now we are in October amid wind which should have ended in August. This is how climate change comes. If we cut down trees and start fires, what shall we do when there are volcanic eruptions. We do not know what we will use as a shield because we have blown the covers. Grass helps preserve moisture and the cutting down of trees will make it difficult for us to replant them because they take long to grow,” she said.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Ezra Chadzamira said his province was lucky to have marked the clean-up day in the presence of the patron of the environment, the First Lady.
“We want to thank the First Lady for leading the clean-up campaign here in Bikita. Bikita you have been so lucky to be the first to have been led by our mother in the whole of Masvingo Province. This is a good programme which makes our country presentable to help lure both foreign and local investors,” he said.
Speaking at the same function, Provincial environmental manager for Masvingo Mr Milton Muusha said the Presidential declaration of every first Friday of the month as a national clean-up day had been a milestone in terms of environmental management in this country.
“Since the declaration by His excellency on the 5th of December 2018 we have seen a very big improvement in the way we manage waste in most of these urban areas, rural service centres and even other service centres in the country. But as you are aware, during the Covid-19 period, there was a general decline because people could not come out to clean up. So we are reviving this after the easing up of covid-19 regulations and we are so glad that the beginning of this has been graced by the First Lady,” he said.
“It is a very big jumpstart to revive the spirits in the people to come back again and do the clean ups.
“Today the 1st of October which is the clean-up day, we are cleaning up at Nyika growth point and this occasion has been graced by Amai. We are so grateful about it, communities are very upbeat about it, we are very excited and most of the area has been cleaned up.”
Residents of Nyika Growth Point were equally happy to be led by the First Lady adding that keeping the environment clean helped foster good health for individuals as well as the community.
Mr Brighton Mushekwa said he will mobilise other youths in the area and ensure they carry forward the clean-up beyond the declared first Friday of every month to enjoy the benefits that come from doing so.
“We are very happy with this clean-up campaign where we have been visited by the mother of the nation to keep our environment clean. This gives our growth point a good image. This area is still developing and is near villages where there is livestock which contract diseases from litter or from swallowing plastics. This clean-up must not take place once a month, we should maintain this because cleanliness is next to Godliness. As youths, this is what we shall continue doing be it at our rural homes, schools or wherever we will be we have to make sure that our environment is always clean. We want to make sure we collect plastics for recycling so that this creates job opportunities for people in the area,” he said.
The youthful Mr Mushekwa added that the clean-up could not have come at any better time as with the onset of the rains, if the environment remained unclean and contaminated, the outbreak of water-borne diseases would continue to be hazardous to health.
Similar words were echoed by another resident Mr Mazhara Muchavhaira.
“I want to thank the First Lady for coming here and helping us to clean up the environment. We wish to continue doing this even after the First Lady’s departure. Diseases mainly spread in unhygienic conditions but If the environment is clean, diseases are fewer. We must always clean up to ensure our drainages are not blocked,” said Mr Muchavhaira.