Lincoln Towindo in MAPUTO, Mozambique
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa will today join Sadc regional leaders for a high-level meeting that will culminate in the signing of a declaration providing for the protection of indigenous forests from rapid exploitation.
The President arrived here last night to attend the High-Level Session of the Regional Conference on Sustainable and Integrated Management of Miombo forests.
He was welcomed at Maputo International Airport by Mozambican Foreign Affairs and Co-operation Minister Verónica Macamo and Zimbabwean Ambassador to Mozambique Victor Matemadanda.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu was already in Maputo as part of an advance delegation.
President Mnangagwa was accompanied by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Frederick Shava, and Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) Mr George Charamba.
In an interview, Forestry Commission general manager Mr Abedinigo Marufu said the conference will culminate in the signing of a binding declaration enjoining parties to the agreement, to protect the Miombo woodlands.
Miombo woodlands are tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome located primarily in Central Africa.
“We are talking about management of our indigenous forests; you know we have been talking about planting trees, primarily exotic trees,” said Mr Marufu.
He said Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi came up with an idea to look after the Miombo woodlands.
“These are woodlands where we have trees such as Munondo, Musasa and Mupfuti, among many others.
“In Zimbabwe, if you go to the Mashonaland provinces you will see vast areas of those woodlands, which provide livelihoods to communities.”
Mr Marufu said Miombo woodlands were fast disappearing on account of deforestation.
In Zimbabwe, a lot of tobacco farmers are using Musasa trees to cure tobacco, he said, resulting in the loss of vast forests.
“So the (SADC) region — nine countries that are here which have got those species — is discussing how we can manage those trees which are very good for our bio-diversity.
“Our forests are also good for tourism so we want to protect them. We want to grow them and make sure that we deal with climate change.
“So this is a grouping of like-minded countries, including Zimbabwe, who are saying let’s come together and sign a declaration which is what we came here to do.”
Mr Marufu said President Mnangagwa will sign the declaration on behalf of Zimbabwe.
He is also expected to meet his Mozambican counterpart, President Nyusi.
The two leaders are expected to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including power imports.
Earlier, President Mnangagwa was seen off at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Cabinet ministers, Service Chiefs and senior Government officials.