Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bintony Kutsaira says ministry officials will be patrolling the country from next week confiscating charcoal and arresting those involved in the business.
He said in an interview on Wednesday after leading his constituents in Lilongwe Msinja North in tree planting that charcoal business contributes more than any other factor to deforestation.
“We want to crackdown on the business. We are still losing a lot of trees to charcoal business so, we can’t fold our hands and watch things get out of hand. This time we are going full force,” said Kutsaira.
Commenting on allegations that some forestry officials aid charcoal burners and sellers corruptly, the minister warned that such officials are digging their own graves.
“That is all included in the operation because we cannot just be cleaning outside the house when we have a lot of dirt inside, so such officials will be dealt with severely,” he said.
During the tree-planting season last year, the Department of Forestry indicated that at the rate the country is losing trees, there would be no tree left by 2070 if no interventions are put in place.
To ensure that trees and other natural resources are secured, the department beefed up security by engaging the Malawi Defence Force to complement its own game rangers in guarding forests and game reserves.
Government introduced a tree- planting season every rainy season starting in December up to April when government ministries, departments and agencies and the private sector plant trees to replace those that were cut down.
Kutsaira said this year, government is targeting to plant 60 million trees across the country and he added that at the pace the exercise is going, the target will be met.