Zim to take over KAZA chairmanship

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Zim to take over KAZA chairmanship

Leonard Ncube in LIVINGSTONE, Zambia

ZIMBABWE is expected to assume the position of coordinating chair for the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) this year.

The KAZA TFCA is a conservation area covering five Southern African countries — Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe — with a population of over two million people and 227 900 elephants centred around the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls corridor.

It has a total of 520 000km2 and about 70 percent of land is under conservation, with 103 wildlife management areas, 85 forest reserves and three world heritage sites.

Member states signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2006, resulting in the Kaza Treaty in 2011.

Speaking at the ministerial meeting that precedes the 2024 Kaza Heads of State Summit which opens in Livingstone, Zambia tomorrow, KAZA executive director Dr Nyambe Nyambe yesterday said the regional conservation bloc had evolved over the years.

He said the chairmanship will be for two years until the end of 2026 and as chair, Zimbabwe will be responsible for day-to-day running of the KAZA secretariat stationed in Botswana.

The country is taking over from Zambia, whose Tourism Minister Rodney Sikumba has been coordinating chair since 2022.

“KAZA has really evolved against the key milestones that the partner states had set for themselves, although there is still a lot of challenges. Dates have been set, towards the end of the year, ministers will meet here in Livingstone to actually pass the baton to the Republic of Zimbabwe as the next coordinating country.

“The transition is in alphabetical order and Zimbabwe will take over from Zambia, who took over from Namibia in 2022,” said Dr Nyambe.

The intention is to make sure there is collective ownership and drive for KAZA, in line with its treaty that guides all structures.

Dr Nyambe said the chairmanship of KAZA came with the responsibilities for day-to-day coordination of the secretariat on behalf of member states.

The 2024 Kaza Heads of State Summit was supposed to be held close to four years ago but was disturbed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This summit, although not provided for in the treaty, is going to be a convening for Heads of State, that shows the high level of political will that characterises KAZA, and courage to commit to the agenda of KAZA by the five Heads of State,” said Dr Nyambe.

The Heads of State last met at the Kasane Elephant Summit in May 2019, where they discussed issues concerning the status of African elephants . The summit gave birth to the aerial survey, which was conducted last year.

The meetings of experts started on Saturday and yesterday culminated into a ministers’ meeting that feeds into the Heads of State Summit, starting tomorrow.

Dr Nyambe said the meeting had so far given an overview on the milestones achieved at KAZA and how the bloc had evolved.

He said what was important was that technocrats had managed to convey to the ministers, the need for progress and implementation, support from the KAZA structures, institutional arrangements, governance, decision making, financial needs and an update on the elephant aerial survey.

The ministers went into a session late afternoon, where they came up with a position paper to be given to the Heads of State.

They called for harmonisation of policies and conservation activities in the regional bloc to enhance a sustainable future.

Zambia Tourism Minister Sikumba, who is the KAZA coordinating chair, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Climate and Wildlife Sithembiso Nyoni, Marcio De Jesus Lopes Daniel (Tourism Angola), Nnaniki Wilhemina Makwinja (Environment and Tourism in Botswana), and Pohamba Shifeta, who is Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism in Namibia, convened the ministers’ meeting.

During a panel discussion, the ministers said KAZA needed strengthening in terms of governance issues.

They called for homegrown financing models, inclusion of communities in decision making, strategies to address impact of climate change and human-wildlife conflict.

“This is the first time in a long time to have a meeting like this, where all ministers are available,” said Dr Nyoni.

She said to show commitment, Zimbabwe had dispatched herself and Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Barbara Rwodzi to the summit, since the two ministries had been split.

Dr Nyoni said there was a need for inclusivity and involvement of communities in conservation work so as to protect the natural resource.

“We need to strengthen coordination structures at national level. We need to take conservation to the people and in Zimbabwe we are making strides towards this by revamping various policies to ensure inclusivity in decision making.

“As KAZA, we need a financing mechanism that is homegrown and sustainable because we can’t rely on funders alone.

“We appreciate them but we need to stand on our own. In Zimbabwe we are committed to doing our best. We have enough resources to make an indelible contribution, including financing ourselves as a region,” said Dr Nyoni.

She said KAZA states needed to vigorously market the region to the outside world to unleash its potential.

Minister Sikumba called for alternative financing models, including harnessing carbon credits.

“We can only strengthen KAZA if we work together. It is important that we strengthen capabilities of communities, populations are growing and demand for land is growing so we need to ensure communities are capacitated so that they have sustainable livelihoods and not affect the ecosystem,” he said.

Angolan Minister Daniel concurred, saying a seamless region was critical for the future of KAZA.

The 2024 KAZA Heads of State Summit will end on Saturday and is being held under the theme: “Leveraging KAZA’s natural capital and cultural heritage resources as catalysts for development of the eco-system”.