Zimbabwe: Save Wildlife Sanctuary - Mzembi Sticks to His Guns

THE inter-ministerial committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to resolve the controversial Save Conservancy saga after the conservancy was invaded by Zanu PF bigwigs last year is still to present its findings to cabinet.

Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi said "it is better to delay the presentation of the findings than to rush into making a decision that will live with us and indict us for good".

Mzembi said the committee had already met twice in the past month and Mutambara appreciates the need to consult widely so that the taskforce can present a very democratic position to cabinet.

Mzembi said the invasions were counter-productive and would dent the country's image ahead of this year's United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly.

"What l said last year on the matter remains indelibly printed on the minds of Zimbabweans and my position will not be changed by anybody," Mzembi said.

"Contrary to assertions that we want to protect white men's interests, we are trying to come up with a model which will empower communities while preserving wildlife for posterity. It is important that we don't replace whites with a bourgeois black class that has already been empowered elsewhere."

Save Conservancy general manager David Goosen said they met Mutambara together with local chiefs to submit their presentation in November last year.

Goosen said the white entrepreneurs had proposed a business model where they could get into partnership with the local community.

"We want the conservancy to be run as a company where the local community will have shares in a trust represented by their chiefs," said Goosen. "We know there is so much potential in the wildlife sector so we welcome community participation."

Save Conservancy is the country's richest and largest private wildlife sanctuary in the world. It hit the headlines last year after it was invaded by Zanu PF bigwigs and army commanders, particularly from Masvingo province.

They parcelled it out among themselves before embarking on an orgy of wildlife hunting, sparking local and international outrage.

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