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Manicaland Correspondent

The on-going massive destruction of the Zumbani shrub has attracted the attention of traditional leaders and environmental activists who have added their voices and called on people to harvest the herb in a responsible and sustainable way.

Zumbani shrub has been used for healing several ailments but shot to global prominence after some herbalist claimed it can also treat COVID 19.This has led to the mass harvesting of the shrub as people are desperate use it for steaming. Entrepreneurs and even large supermarkets have seen a business opportunity and are now selling the leaves.

However what is now worrying is the reckless manner in which the shrub is being harvested which may result in its extinction. Health experts have also warned against the excessive steaming saying it may cause some challenges as some people are steaming as much as four times a day.

Headman Talkmore Mupambawahle of Makoni district who is also a medical professional said people should harvest the tree sustainably and also it must be used as a herb cautiously since there is no scientific evidence to prove that Zumbani treats corona virus.

“It is so sad to witness the on-going deforestation of Zumbani and Mufandichimuka plants by people who are claiming that they can cure or prevent COVID 19. We are worried by the destruction of our environment by people maximising profits using these herbs which haven’t been approved yet and there is no scientific evidence which shows that it cures Covid 19.

“Although we appreciate that herbs were used by our forefathers to treat different ailments and some herbs are being used currently in the medical fraternity.

Our fore fathers were geniuses in conversation of the forests they get the herbs because they were aware of the importance of the need for future sustainability of natural resources.

Also they backed up the use of any herb by historical proven information of its efficacy on an ailment which is equivalent to the scientific evidence and at the moment there is nothing scientific that point to Zumbani shrub treating Covid 19″, said Headman Mupambawahle.

National Tree Ambassador Mr Never Bonde who is also the director of Isandla Esihle/Ruoko Rwakanaka Trust said there is need to educate people on sustainable harvesting of trees to avoid deforestation of natural resources.

“Zumbani has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries by our forebears to cure flu like symptom. Right now there is unprecedented stampede for the shrub because of this corona virus. If we are not careful as a nation the shrub will be extinct’

“Whether the shrub cures and prevents Covid 19 is not an issue but how people are harvesting is now a huge concern and measures must be taken to protect this plant. Environmental Management Agency, Forestry Commission and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority must put mechanisms to control the sustainable harvesting of Zumbani plant, said Bonde whose organisation is setting up a botanical garden.