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Save Conservancy invasion saga drags on
Herbert Moyo, The Independent Zimbabwe
November 01, 2013

Stakeholders including foreign investors and the local community are still waiting for the new government to come up with a resolution to the long-running Save Conservancy saga, a year after the wild-life-rich conservancy was invaded by Zanu-PF bigwigs.

Various stakeholders who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week said the dispute between invaders and conservancy owners was still to be resolved.

Save Conservancy is the richest and largest private wildlife sanctuary in the world. It hit the headlines last year after on invasion by Zanu-PF heavyweights, particularly from Masvingo province.

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

An inter-ministerial team led by then deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara was established last year during the tenure of the inclusive government to investigate the matter and present recommendations to cabinet, but failed to deliver.

Save Conservancy general manager David Goosen, who met the Mutambara team twice in November, said a speedy resolution to the dispute was dashed by the election campaigns ahead of the July 31 polls and the subsequent change of ministers after the polls.

“As you know there were elections and now there’s a new minister,” Goosen said. “We are setting up meetings with the new minister (Saviour Kasukuwere) and we are still positive that a workable win-win situation for everybody will be realised.”

Goosen spoke of a business model in which the conservancy owners could get into partnership with the local community, adding that there is need to balance “government’s desire for indigenisation against the need to attract and retain foreign investors, as well as ensuring local communities benefit from the proceeds of conservancies in their areas, in addition to ensuring sustainable conservation of wildlife resources”.

“We want the conservancy to be run as a company and the local community will have shares in a trust represented by their chiefs,” said Goosen.

Kasukuwere’s phone went unanswered on Wednesday, while Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi did not return the Zimbabwe Independent’s call as promised.

However, Mzembi has in the past spoken strongly against the invasion of Save Conservancy.

Last month, he alluded to government’s failure to resolve the Save issue, describing wildlife and conservancy issues as a “supercritical governance problem where the government still has to provide its people with solutions and answers.”

“The governance issue is part of our outstanding business from the previous government that we are rolling over and unless we address that we will continue having problems,” Mzembi said.

He concurred with Goosen, saying the country should be looking at crafting policies to turn more of Zimbabwe’s arid areas in natural farming regions four and five into conservancies.

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