MEDIA RELEASE: 19 MAY 2014
by Kenesias Dambakurima, in collaboration with March for Elephants and For Elephants Int.
Government aligned media outlet questions Ministers on Presidential Elephants Fiasco…
On May 16th The Herald, a media outlet favoured by the Government in Zimbabwe published a news story, ‘Conservationists launch Presidential Elephants petition’ speaking to the petition ‘Save the Presidential Elephants Now’ [*<-linked to petition] raised by Kenesias Dambakurima of Chiwundura Constituency, Zimbabwe, March for Elephants and For Elephants International, calling on the Ministers for Land and Tourism to immediately evict the occupiers of the land known as Kanondo adjacent to Hwange National Park Main Camp.
Despite both Ministers, Hon Douglas Mombeshora who is the Minister for Lands and Rural Resettlement and the Hon Walter Mzembi, the Minister for Tourism and Hospitality Industry, being members of the Cabinet, and party to the Cabinet Decision of 3 December 2013 which revoked the Letter of Offer of the land to Elisabeth Freeman, Mr Mbezi has chosen to state publicly that this is a Politburo matter. The Cabinet Ministers; including the Hon Saviour Kasukuwere, who is Minister of Environment and Wildlife, and is also named in the petition, are also members of the Politburo. This begs the questions if the Ministers will enforce their own directive? Could it be that the occupiers of the land are well connected and therefore being granted favour despite what is essentially a binding notice of eviction by the issuance of the Cabinet Directive of 3 December 2013? In the Herald article the Ministers appeared to play politics by passing the buck from one to the other, ultimately saying that the Politburo must make the decision.
Ms Freeman, the occupier of the land, is also known as Elisabeth Pasalk. Ms Freeman is the daughter of the late politician Isabel Shanangurai Madangure. Ms Freeman is the sister of a hunter from the nearby Matetsi sport-hunting area. There are ongoing fears of this claimant bringing underhanded and unethical hunting activities into this important land area, heightened by her demand that this area now be closed off to others.
In the article in the Herald, Minister Mombeshora invited the conservationists and concerned citizens to “come in person and tell us or write to me or the permanent secretary.” The petition letter is being prepared with the current 3700+ signatures gathered to date to be presented by fax and post to the Ministers, the Cabinet and the Politburo, so there can be no doubt that the matter has been formally raised with the responsible parties. The conservationists will appeal to the Ministers for a formal meeting in person with the relevant officials to discuss the issue.
Kenesias Dambakurima, the initiator of the petition, stated “We have the Ministers attention, we will submit the petition and letter to the Ministers as invited.” He said “We are hopeful the Ministers will fulfil their duty and the legal requirements of the Cabinet Directive forthwith”.
Damakurima went on to say “This article in the Herald has put our concerns about the wellbeing of the Presidential Elephants front and centre. Their safety and that of their land areas is our primary concern, the elephant’s range within the Kanondo area has been a major draw card for tourists who access this land on game-drives from several well established safari lodge operators. The presence of these tourists help to ensure the elephant’s safety. Tourism operators who have had access to the land, and the Presidential Elephants Conservation Project are currently denied access, the land is occupied in contravention of a Cabinet Directive.”
“It is of deep concern that Ms Freeman has stopped the formal monitoring, recording and patrol efforts of a conservationist who had been dedicated to this work for the past 13 years. The authorities must ensure that all Presidential Elephant areas are open to this important work, which is crucial to knowing the ongoing status of this flagship herd across all land areas.” Damakurima said.
Please sign the Petition
*Save the Presidential Elephants Now
Presidential Elephants Conservation project | Zimbabwe
Conservationists launch Presidential Elephants petition
16 May 2014 The Herald (A Govt. Media Outlet) www.herald.co.zw
The Fate of the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe—A Conversation With Sharon Pincott
12 May 2014 National Geographic newswatch.nationalgeographic.com
Questions raised over ownership of Zimbabwe’s Kanondo
23 April 2014. South African Tourism Update. www.tourismupdate.co.za
Read also the numerous comments on this post.
Hunting of Zim Presidential Elephants Reportedly Begins
23 April 14 http://www.thezimbawean.co/
Elephant Activist Calls It A Day
13 April 14 www.thezimbawean.co
An earlier Action post by For Elephant’s International with details from the Presidential Elephant Conservation project here:
ZIMBABWE PRESIDENTIAL HERD UNDER THREAT
25 March 14 www.elephantectivism.org
Contact: Kenesias on: +27833571119901