via Envoy vents Save sanctuary frustration 01/05/2014 NewZimbabwe
GERMANY’S ambassador to Zimbabwe has expressed frustration over Save Conservancy, a multi-million dollar wildlife sanctuary in which European Union nationals have business interests, but has since been invaded by top Zanu PF officials
Ambassador Ulrich Klockner said the dispute over control of the sanctuary where German investor Wilfried Pabst is vice chairman, was “taking much of my time (which) I would like to spend engaging in positive projects aimed at helping revive the (Zimbabwe’s) ailing economy”.
Germany has strong partnerships with the Bulawayo and Norton local authorities where it is assisting in the rehabilitation of water and energy infrastructure.
The EU member state plans to extend the cooperation to other towns such as Harare and Redcliff in the Midlands after local authorities there recently approached its Harare embassy appealing for assistance.
However, in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Ambassador Klockner said, since his arrival in Zimbabwe late last year, he has been spending much of his time convincing compatriots with investments in the country that their assets were safe.
“We should be concentrating on how can we solve the energy problem, how can we get business rather than just travelling around the country trying to calm some citizens who are afraid that they might lose what they worked on for 50 years,” said the envoy.
His remarks come after the government insisted that it would not to reverse its decision to indigenise the wildlife conservancy which was last year invaded by top Zanu PF officials, sparking threats of aid cut by the EU.
The conservancy is a major attraction for tourists and professional hunters, especially from western countries, who pay thousands of dollars for the chance to see – or hunt – the wild animals living there.
Founded in 1991, it is co-owned by groups of foreign and local whites, as well as black Zimbabweans who regulate the hunting and protect endangered wildlife such as elephants, rhinos and buffalo.
Since its establishment, the conservancy has been managed in partnership with Zimbabwe’s state-run Agriculture and Rural Development Authority.
He said apart from economically empowering black Zimbabweans, involving them in the park’s operations would also boost wildlife conservation efforts, as they would have an incentive to protect animals rather than hunt them.
Kasukuwere however, stressed that only those properties owned by white Zimbabweans would be affected by the indigenisation policy, which seeks to grant black Zimbabweans a minimum 51-percent stake in the conservancy.
“Foreign-owned properties will not be affected as they are protected under investment laws, but those [properties] of local whites will be,” he said.
Property held by foreigners is protected from appropriation by the state under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) signed by Zimbabwe and various E.U. governments.