Zimbabwe park seizure - aid consequences

2012-08-26 21:51

Harare - The seizure by the government of a massive, prized wildlife reserve in Zimbabwe could spark a targeted withdrawal of Western aid, two European diplomats told dpa on Sunday.

The privately owned Save Valley Conservancy group says only people who are part of President Robert Mugabe's inner circle stand to benefit from the land grab, while the reserve and the animals, including endangered species, would suffer.

Lions, leopards, elephants, cheetahs and the often-poached rhino all live on the land. As part of the seizure, hunting licenses are being granted to politicians, in a move that has conservationists worried.

The plan is regarded as one of the largest seizures since 2000, when the Zimbabwe government began to kick white farmers off their land and transfer ownership to blacks.

The land reform programme was meant to rectify colonial-era imbalances which heavily favoured the white minority. However, critics say it has largely benefited politically connected elites from Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

"We are all very concerned," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are considering appropriate reactions. It's a very serious situation."

One measure could be the withdrawal of support for a United Nations' World Tourism Organisation congress next year, being hosted jointly by Zimbabwe and Zambia at Victoria Falls, a tourist site on the shared border.

"Zimbabwe depends entirely on international support for the congress," said a European diplomat. "It cannot go ahead without us."

The idea would be discussed in Berlin this week, during a meeting of German officials, the diplomats said.

Two-thirds black owned

Zimbabwe's state wildlife authority announced on 9 August it was granting 25 top officials from Zanu-PF control over most of the Save reserve, which covers 2 600km² in the country's arid south-east.

Running along the banks of the Save river, the conservancy - respected as a leader in wildlife management and research - is collectively controlled by international investors, white ranchers who formerly ran cattle on the land, local black businessmen and hundreds of peasant farmers.

"It is a working example of how something really special can be a success, by including all sectors of the community, especially the rural poor who have previously got nothing out of wildlife," said Wilfried Pabst, a German businessman who is vice chairperson of the conservancy.

Pabst rejected accusations by the government that the reserve is opposed to ensuring a fair deal for blacks.

"Two-thirds of stakeholders of the conservancy are blacks. It is now being threatened by a collection of greedy individuals who are bringing nothing into the conservancy and will destroy it," Pabst said.

The Save Valley Conservancy noted in a statement that the government had supported the reserve consistently since the reserve was founded in 1991.

Conservations warn that two other Zimbabwean reserves that were the subjects of takeovers have since collapsed. About 600 workers at Save stand to lose their jobs, should it suffer a similar fate, they say.

The Save group also warned that, already, anti-poaching staff were being removed from their posts and hunting of antelopes was on the rise for sale on local meat markets, in a move apparently spearheaded by a Zanu-PF official.

Diplomats say they are in talks with Zimbabwe's government in an effort to reach a conservation deal.

  • kayley.segal - 2012-08-27 00:06

    And South Africa remains silent.....

      marc.hugo.75 - 2012-08-27 07:48

      What did you expect Kayley? The 'behind the secene viewpoint' is that they don't disagree. They 'kinda like the idea'. They are the same pile of stinking garbage, basically.

      gavin.taylor.79 - 2012-08-27 09:59

      No Kayley, very soon they will send a delegation to visit uncle Bob to find out how they can secure International funding for SA parks before they grab them in a similar style.

  • peter.ridgway.71 - 2012-08-27 00:21

    carry you will not be satisfied until all africans are back in animal skins and starving

      husaberg.twostroke - 2012-08-27 00:36

      yes that will work.

  • james.rossouw - 2012-08-27 01:33

    Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity.

      Jennifer - 2012-08-27 08:42

      they like the result.

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-08-27 01:54

    perhaps we should hunt them down and issue hunting licenses for Zanu-PF members..God alone knows that in this crazy world anything is possible..and to expect South Africa to do anything..what would they do Robert Mugabe is a lunatic who should be shot like a rabid dog..!No one can control him!

  • johandebeer - 2012-08-27 02:37


      teboh.rapheal - 2012-08-27 16:14

      JOHANDEBEER. no body is more savage than thoes who killed and eat the meat of 100 million indians.

  • cheryl.laing.94 - 2012-08-27 03:07

    This should be brought to the attention of national and international conservation/lobbying groups URGENTLY. These parks should belong to the people of the country and preserved, NOT the government!!

  • sanet.oelofse - 2012-08-27 05:54

    Apparently preservation of wild life is a colonial institution, what were they thinking? And when it is all gone they will blame colonialism for allowing their people to suffer, sounds about right?

      teboh.rapheal - 2012-08-27 16:13

      sanet.oelofe colonialist did not existe but savage aryan pre occupation america south american africa and asia.people where cohabiting with animals and nature peacefully.but your uncontrolled quest for power and money has transformed people to think like animals for simple dollars.who will cry for the indians of america?more than 100 million people eraced from the earths sufface.

  • sisie.indola - 2012-08-27 07:12

    Oh please Mugabe and friends do as they want - they care nothing for anything or anyone. Hunting licenses will be granted to the chommies in the Far East, and they will benefit from the rhinos, elephant tusks and lion bones that the Far East need to confirm their reason for existing. Shame it's a real pity about the animals, but you know what nothing will happen, because if you don't have a conscience does anything really matter besides the money and power you have over everything. And the African community and neighbours will turn a blind eye.

  • heibrin.venter - 2012-08-27 07:35

    This just prove two things: 1. Zimbabwe's government is and will always be toxic under Mugabe. 2. Destroying is in their nature.

  • michael.barns.1 - 2012-08-27 07:50

    houts, goats and bezuidenhouts

  • cominco2 - 2012-08-27 07:59

    seems that they will never kearn and that they are willing to corupt themselves out of the very country they claim they wish to save. So glad I went when I did it has been a down hill run ever since.

  • rick.kabose - 2012-08-27 08:13

    Zimbabweans deserve to suffer,this is their government. Poverty for all but the connected,enjoy

  • philschalkwyk - 2012-08-27 08:22

    Guys, you are raving. Get rid of Mugabe.Hes the problem.

      marc.hugo.75 - 2012-08-27 08:51

      That's an oft-held fallacy Phil. You see, Zimbabweans have voted that cretin into power in a continuous succession of elections since 1980. They chose him, so its their fault. That's the glorious wonder of democracy. You get the idiot you deserve. And they richly deserve to stew in their own juice.

      barker.ruing - 2012-08-27 09:57

      Mugabe is a puppet of the ruling military. They say jump, he asks "how high and what direction?"

      jed.pause - 2012-08-27 11:20

      Actually they didn't vote him in, not ZANU-PF... they lost in 2008. He only got to be President by culling the MDC and they pulled out of the Presidential re-run in protest... unfortunately that's exactly what Mugabe wanted... But yes, Bob is not in power, the army are, and have been for the last 10 years

  • barker.ruing - 2012-08-27 09:55

    Move the World Travel and Tourism Congress to Livingstone. Zambia has far more to offer for tourists than Zimbabwe.

  • iceman196 - 2012-08-27 10:10

    omg whats going to become of the animals, come on SA national parks, spca, lets get moving here

      teboh.rapheal - 2012-08-27 16:02

      LAN parks were only created because of wild aryan nomads killing animals indiscremenately for dollars.

  • pws69 - 2012-08-27 10:25

    Two observations Now that the farming idustry has been destroyed, and therefore cannot be milked anymore, it is time to do the same to the tourist industry. In the latest opinion poll, ZANU PF have made massive gains. Conclusion: Zimbabwe must suffer the consequences of their actions.

  • Chumscrubber1 - 2012-08-27 12:40

    Zimbabwe ... oh, yawn ... lost cause.

  • michelle.walkerblake - 2012-08-27 12:51

    It just leaves me speechless! The arrogance of this man and his cronies defies belief. It would seem he is determined that his legacy will be nothing more than a bankrupt state and massive humanitarian crises. South Africa sits on the sidelines and does nothing, quiet diplomacy is not working Mr Zuma!

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