The governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe have signed an agreement for the management and sustainable use of the natural resources of the Pungue River Basin.

The accord was signed in the city of Chimoio, in the central Mozambican province of Manica, on Sunday by Mozambique’s Public Works Minister, Carlos Bonete, and Zimbabwe’s Environment Minister, Oppah Muchinguri.

The Pungue River suffers from high levels of pollution as a result of activities of illegal gold miners. The environment had been damaged by the miners’ use of mercury and of borax (sodium borate). In addition, mining in the river churns up the riverbed and the water becomes turbid.

Illegal mining poses a threat to the livelihoods and health of those living along the river. It is estimated that 1.5 million people live in the basin of the Pungue River which rises in Zimbabwe and flows into the Indian Ocean.

Therefore, the two governments have decided to join forces in an attempt to resolve the problem of illegal mining and other harmful practices.

According to Bonete, the agreement opens a new era of co-operation between the two countries in the management of water resources. He stressed that the sustainable and integrated management of water resources is an instrument for peace.

He highlighted the fact that this agreement has been made at a time when the southern African region is facing a severe drought.

Muchinguri said the accord marked the high point of the project to manage the Pungue River Basin which began in 2002 with the objective of overcoming the problems related to illegal mining.

She added: “We are here to strengthen our cooperation in water management. We want to continue to develop concrete actions so that the population can carry on benefitting from the efforts to preserve the basin and its environment.”

The Pungue River Basin covers an area of 31,151 square kilometres, of which 4.7 per cent is in Zimbabwe. The river has a length of about 400 kilometres.

Source: Nam News Network