By Thandie Chadzandiyani
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The President Lazarus Chakwera’s Tonse government through department of forest and natural resources on June 9, 2021 issued a memo that prohibits the production, sell and use of charcoal accordance with the forestry amendment Act (2019).
The department has mandated Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to confiscate charcoal in all roads across the country.
The decision was made without providing alternative sources of energy as most houses in Malawi use charcoal for cooking.
This is also arrived when gas, electricity tariffs are high following tax increases on them.
The development has attracted public criticism over unrealistic decision on already volatile society which is struggling access to basic needs.
Benison Betha, a charcoal seller Machinjiri Blantyre complains, “I’m not good at anything than producing and selling charcoal, main reason being its the only source of income in my family, if I stop this that means my family is going to starve, they have to reconsider this decision”.
“Am not saying what we do is illegal but we have no choice unless they give us an alternative”, she demanded
The government has put in measures on how to deal with anyone found in possession of any forest product being firewood or animals.
Another concerned charcoal user at Area 36 in Lilongwe Clara Mkunga chipped in, “It’s either Charcoal or firewood that I can manage to purchase, electricity is too much expensive for me to be using it for cooking, so if they are banning the usage of these things they have to give me something else to cook with”.
Mathews Malata the environmental expert said; “it is true we have a problem in charcoal usage in Malawi, most of the charcoal we see in the market is irregularly produced, which has really caused a problem as we are clearing our forest more faster than we are replacing them. If we don’t do anything about this, end result is disaster”.
The department however has instructed all officers, particularly officers at the road blocks, that pursuant to section 21 of the customs and excise Act, all illegal forestry related goods should be confiscated and surrendered to relevant authorities.
“We don’t want Malawi to become a desert that is why we are trying to control the situation now and promote the use of other ways like gas banners” says Malata.
Malawi plans to replace 4.5 million hectares of land with trees by 2030 which the pace they are covering now is not convincing because it is more expensive.
About 13% of Malawi population use electricity leaving the rest of the population surviving.