14 September 2012

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Technical Committee to Look Into Save Valley Conservancy Issues

The Zanu-PF Politburo has set up a technical committee to explore ways to deal with issues affecting operations at the Save Valley Conservancy.

Party spokesman Cde Rugare Gumbo yesterday said the committee would be made up of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo and Lands, Land Reforms and Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa.

Ministers Walter Mzembi (Tourism and Hospitality Industry) and Francis Nhema (Environment and Natural Resources Management) are also part of the committee.

Cde Gumbo, however, indicated that the party's supreme decision-making body outside congress would want the conservancy to be turned into a national park.

"The Politburo resolved that those ministers will meet soon to discuss issues around the Save Conservancy. They will provide us with the way forward but the thinking is to convert the conservancy into a national park," said Cde Gumbo. "If that succeeds, then it means those leases issued recently would fall away."

Cde Gumbo said the way forward would be guided by the committee's recommendations.

A group of indigenous recipients was recently issued with hunting permits and quotas by Government to engage interested hunters in the conservancy.

The storm has led to sharp divisions among Cabinet ministers. Minister Nhema has said the farmers should "play ball" and work with the partners. Minister Mzembi, however, called for a re-visit of the issuance of licences.

He said the conflict could jeopardise Zimbabwe's chances of successfully hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly set for August next year.

The new partners had been issued with 25-year leases in 2007 as beneficiaries of the Wildlife-based land reform programme.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority board also objected to this saying it was a ploy to empower a few individuals who benefited in other spheres of indigenisation programmes.

It urged Government to revoke the hunting permits issued to new partners and remove illegal settlers encroaching onto the conservancies.

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