President Mugabe has called for transparency and accountability in the allocation of hunting licences in the country’s conservancies.
Speaking to the former Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister Francis Nhema before the start of the Zanu-PF Politburo meeting in Harare yesterday, President Mugabe said the allocation of the licences and operations of the conservancies seemed to be shrouded in secrecy.
He said ordinary Zimbabweans were entitled to operate in the conservancies as an empowerment tool.
“We cannot run a country like that, a situation where we have forests and our people are excluded from them,” President Mugabe said.
“We do not know what is happening there, we do not know the activities taking place, less still we do not know how much money they are getting and how that money is accounted for. The way people come in and out seems to be done in secrecy. We do not know what the Boers are doing in the forests.”
Minister Nhema told the President that the hunting licences were awarded through tenders.
Interjected President Mugabe: “A tender which only a Minister might know. Why can’t it be open like what happens on the farms.”
President Mugabe said indigenous people should have access to the conservancies and they should own them.
He tasked Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere with ensuring that everything that happens in the country’s conservancies was open for public scrutiny, including the revenue that is realised from the wildlife sanctuary.
“Ensure the curtain is raised so that whatever drama takes place there we must watch as the audience,” President Mugabe said.
Minister Nhema said to ensure accountability, the hunters fill forms for every concession they have.
“There are forms they fill and within the provinces there are provincial heads who participated in the allocation of those concessions,” he said.
“In a way, Your Excellency, and if you recall during the time of Cde (Joseph) Msika there was a committee of Governors and that is where the issues were discussed from each of the provinces.
“These Governors would also work hand in hand with provincial and district administrators.”
Traditional leaders in the Save Valley Conservancy last year complained that their communities were not benefiting from the conservancies.
An inter-ministerial team led by the 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 it failed to deliver.
Seven chiefs later signed a partnership agreement with operators for communities to jointly assume control of the wildlife-rich conservancy.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe was presented with a portrait of himself by 23-year-old Clemence Magadzire at the Zanu-PF headquarters yesterday.