Lumbidzani Dima, Chronicle Reporter
DURING his schooldays, Bulawayo resident Mr Tonderai Shoko (37) used to cycle from home in Matsheumhlope to school and the ride was refreshing as the environment was clean.
In the intervening years, the situation started deteriorating and Bulawayo lost its status as the country’s most clean city.
That public shame, propelled Mr Shoko to launch the “Keep Bulawayo Clean” campaign with his two younger brothers Willard and Tinashe in February 2017. Every day, he devotes an hour to cleaning the environment.
Today marks day 1 689 of their anti-litter campaign, and Mr Shoko together with his team chose to clean Centenary Park in the morning.
“When I was young with my two young brothers, we used to enjoy cycling from our home in Matsheumhlope to school, and the pavements were clean. But as we grew older, we noticed that things have changed and people are no longer taking care of the environment, so we tasked ourselves to make a contribution towards the environment,” said Mr Shoko.
“We started the whole thing, then joined hands with EMA, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and the Forestry Commission, as well as volunteers.”
In his anti-littering campaigns, Mr Shoko conducts cleanups, educates residents on the need to preserve the environment and the importance of planting trees.
“We do cleanups, tree planting, education, we go around educating people on the environment. We go to random areas where we notice that there is a dumping site or areas of concern such as 6th avenue in the city centre.
“We speak to business people on the street, the vendors too. We also go to schools and universities, but of late we haven’t been going due to Covid-19,” he said.
Mr Shoko works for a local advertising company as a sales consultant.
He uses his own earnings and sometimes resources from well-wishers to keep his campaigns going. Last month, he was the recipient of an environment award in the city for his efforts.
“I use my own money because I have Bulawayo at heart. I provide industrial gloves, masks, T-shirts, fuel, gumboots, trees, surgical gloves and bin liners for myself and my team,” said Mr Shoko.
Just like any other person, group or institution, his team has new year resolutions that must have been achieved by the time the year ends.
One of the major resolutions is pushing people and institutions to embrace recycling.
Planting more trees in an attempt to fight global warming is another target.
“For this year, our resolution is to educate people more on recycling. It is our drive to make people understand that recycling is worthwhile and they can earn a living. This will mean that the litter that is all over the place will be absorbed,” said Mr Shoko.
His anti-littering campaigns have gone beyond Bulawayo and Zimbabwe.
Mr Shoko has been invited to Victoria Falls, Kariba and Johannesburg in South Africa by fellow environmentalists.
His Day 809 campaign was conducted at in Diepsloot in Johannesburg.
But what does Mr Shoko think of the plans by the Bulawayo City Council to come up with deterrent anti-littering fines?
“BCC’s plan to arrest and fine litter bugs is long overdue and most welcome. It will actually push people into not littering. If one goes to first world countries, they will realise that littering attracts big fines,” he said.
“Considering that Bulawayo used to be one of the cleanest cities in the world, and for us to attain and achieve that status again we need to have such fines, not light ones but heavy fines.”