President Peter Mutharika has warned his government will apply tough laws against people who kill wild animals and degrade the environment.
Speaking during the launch of Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus in Lilongwe yesterday, the President said his commitment will help stop and reverse the current situation of wildlife and natural resources destruction.
He said Africa and in particular Malawi are beautiful places rich in wild and plant life, that his country will do everything to ensure such beauty is conserved.
“Those smuggling or killing our wild animals will face the law. Careless cutting down of our trees is a crime. We aim to harness wildlife and environment promotion policies and also working to introduce laws that will make these acts strong crimes,” Muthurika said.
The development of the National Conservation Policy, he said, is key.
Minister for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka said the caucus will see parliamentarians become conservation activists.
“We also have the Parliamentary Committee on Environment. In the caucus we are adding 178 more activists. True activists are not those who will point at a river and say it is dirty, but real activists will go out and clean the river,” he said.
He also revealed that his ministry had in the meantime detained a truckload of hardwood at the border with Tanzania at Songwe.
Malawi is losing most if its green cover and wild life to fraudulent loggers and poachers, including foreigners like Europeans who externalise rare fish species and Chinese who kill elephants for their ivory.
Malawi population of lions and rhinos have also greatly dwindled forcing government to spend millions importing from South Africa.
Newly introduced and growing mining industry is also a great threat to the Malawian ecosystem and environment in the absence if new and resonate policies that enforce environmental management.
Chairperson for Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change, Welani Chilenga MP said the MPCC caucus aims to build capacity of Members of Parliament (MPs) about the value of conservation of the country’s natural resources.
“With the caucus in place, Members of Parliament will have an opportunity to interact and exchange ideas on various issues of conservation and natural resources management with fellow parliamentarians from other countries in the continent especially where such caucuses exists,” he said.
He said the aim of the caucus is to provide a platform for bridging parliamentarians drawn from all political parties within the Malawi National Assembly and other stakeholders including government related sectors.
Chilenga said the caucus also aims at undertaking several activities including raising awareness, acting as watch dog and providing oversight on environmental, conservational and natural resources management issues.
He outlined some of the challenges that the country was facing such as the highest rate of deforestation which was at 2.8 percent in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
“Worrisome enough is that Malawi forest cover now stands at less than 20.4 percent and is further declining,” he said.
Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya, who is the head of the caucus, said the body has been formed to assist government in the conservation of environment and wildlife.
The local caucus is expected to join a network of other stakeholders locally and internationally such as International Conservation Caucus in the US Congress, the Parliamentary Conservation Caucus – Kenya Chapter, the Zambian Parliamentary Conservation Caucus, the Namibian Conservation Parliamentary Caucus, the Tanzania Parliamentary Friends of the Environment Caucus and the Colombian Congressional Conservation Caucus.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :