Deforestation law angers residents

THE residents of 32 poverty-stricken villages outside Tzaneen in Mpu-malanga have threatened not to bring firewood for cooking to the inaugural celebration of the first female chief to rule the Valoyi tribe.

The N'wamitwa Traditional Authority recently introduced "no deforestation" bylaws that prevent the villagers from chopping trees for firewood.

The villagers expressed their concern after the traditional authority issued an order to headmen in villages around N'wamitwa asking each household to bring firewood for cooking during the celebrations.

The residents said that in the past two weeks they had been forced to cut down trees at night to take to the chief's homestead.

A villager, who wanted to remain anonymous, said most of the villagers had resorted to using electricity for cooking because they feared they might be punished for cutting trees.

She said most of them lived far from Chief N'wamitwa's palace where the celebrations would take place.

"We will be forced to spend money to buy firewood from local farms in order to be able to take some to the chief's palace."

Several attempts to get commentfromroyal spokespersonPeter Shilubanawereunsuccessful.

The celebrations will start today and end on Sunday.

Many sport activities have been planned to entertain the youth and the best performers stand to win cash prizes.

Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya will deliver the keynote address.