Home | WIKILEAKS | Cabinet Ministers and ZANU-PF officials making a killing from wildlife conservancies -Wikileaks

Cabinet Ministers and ZANU-PF officials making a killing from wildlife conservancies -Wikileaks

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Cabinet Ministers and other senior ZANU-PF officials are reportedly making a killing from wildlife conservancies seized from former white-commercial farmers, according to the latest salvo from international whistle-blower, WikiLeaks.

A classified United States cable named ZANU-PF ministers, senior party officials as well some of the party's sympathisers of making a killing from the conservancies. The information was leaked to American diplomats by a former National Parks and Wildlife Authority official and professional hunter, Don Heath.

One of the individuals named, Dumiso Dabengwa, has since left ZANU-PF and is now leader of the revived ZAPU. The cable said targeting ZANU-PF members with interests in the hunting industry would be difficult, but possible.

It added that one way would be to "eliminate" US hunters from Zimbabwe, but there were reservations on that route due to fears that it would potentially cause the collapse of the hunting industry and negatively impact on conservation efforts, including the survival of specific endangered species and poor communities.

"Establishing a connection between Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) and their safari interests is difficult because these individuals are often careful to hide their direct involvement in the business. According to Heath, the following OFAC (Office of Foreign Accountant Control)-sanctioned individuals are known to have a stake in a safari area concession, safari operator and private land/ private hunting reserve: Edward Chindori-Chininga (Gwaai Valley Conservancy); Jocelyn Chiwenga (Matetsi Unit 6 Safari Area); Ignatius Chombo (Chiredzi River Conservancy); Dumiso Dabengwa (Gwaai Valley Conservancy); Joseph Made (Gwaai Valley Conservancy)," reads part of the cable.

"Amos Midzi (Gwaai Valley Conservancy); Kembo Mohadi (Gwaai Valley Conservancy); Simon (Khaya) Moyo (Gwaai Valley Conservancy); Obert Mpofu (Gwaai Valley Conservancy); Webster Shamu (Chirisa Safari Area and 51 percent stake in Famba Safaris), wife also has a separate interest in Chete Safari Area, but she is not on the SDN list; Charles Utete (Gwaai Valley Conservancy); Paradzai Zimondi (Charara Safari Area); Lovemore Chihota (Matetsi Unit 7), brother of SDN Phineas Chihota; Thandi Nkomo (Tuli Safari Area), sister of SDN Louise Nkomo who is the spouse of SDN Francis Nhema."

The cable added that despite a 50 percent decline in receipts, the safari hunting business remains an important source of foreign currency for Zimbabwe. Prior to the start of the fast-track land reform programme in 2000, the commercial wildlife industry, including hunting and eco-tourism, was growing, but adverse international publicity about declining socio-political conditions and controversial hunting practices were said to be taking a toll on the sector.

Controversial hunting practices that were said to be prevalent were listed as high quotas, poaching and poor wildlife management on private land, among others.

"In recent years, there have been reports that several lucrative safari areas concessions were awarded without being offered for public tender to allow regime insiders to gain control of concessions at below market prices," reads part of the cable.

"Sally Bown, a SOAZ (Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe) representative, stressed that there have been problems in the past, but the most recent concession allocations have been done in a fair and open manner.

"George Pangeti, chairman of Parks and the Africa representative for Safari Club International (SCI), told Poloff (Political Officer) that Parks now insists on public auctions specifically to avoid undue political interference and to ensure Parks receives the full value of the offering. (Note: Parks is a financially self-sufficient parastatal that receives no funding from the government except for a specific allocation for development in Gonarezhou National Park."

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