via Mzembi childish— Kasukuwere – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 22, 2014 by Wisdom Mdzungairi
ENVIRONMENT, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere has launched a scathing attack on Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi for “poking his nose” into issues he had no expertise on after he urged a “sober approach” to indigenisation of the wildlife industry last week.
Kasukuwere yesterday told NewsDay that his ministry was resolved to empowering indigenous black Zimbabweans in the wildlife sector.
The issue has waded into Zanu PF factions led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who were reportedly angling to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Kasukuwere was speaking as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) revised its suspension of imports of sport-hunted African elephants from Zimbabwe and Tanzania yesterday.
However, US citizens that hunted in the two countries should demonstrate to the USFWS office of law enforcement that the hunts occurred before the April 4 ban for them to import their trophies into the US.
The USFWS recently suspended imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania over alleged questionable management practices.
It also cited lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance in the parks estates that had resulted in uncontrolled poaching and catastrophic population decline of elephants in the two countries.
This came as Zimbabwe’s hunting industry prepared for the start of the hunting season in May, which runs through November. Zimbabwe’s elephant quota stands at about 500 animals each season which were exported by mainly US citizens.
Under the revision, elephant trophies legally taken from Zimbabwe from January 1 until April 4 will be allowed to be imported into the US.
Yesterday, Kasukuwere said his ministry would continue to engage the USFWS to totally lift its ban as it would hurt wildlife conservation in the country.
“We welcome the US move, but still urge them to completely remove the ban as we still think that it was not based on facts on the ground,” Kasukuwere said.
“Facts on the ground do not support the US move, so we will continue to engage them as an important stakeholder so that we have common ground on this very important matter.”
Last week, Mzembi — believed to be in the Mujuru faction — said the issue needed “very sober introspection from all those involved”.
He was opposed to the allocation of Save Valley Conservancy to some top Zanu PF officials last year. Mzembi said instead of being combative, Kasukuwere needed to adopt an all-inclusive approach to develop the industry.
“There is need for self-introspection. Tourism is a peace industry. We want to manage wildlife for posterity. Every sector should work together with others. No ministry can do everything by itself unilaterally. This ban did not happen when (previous Environment minister Francis) Nhema was at the ministry. So one would want to ask: Is there something we are now not doing right? While we need to de-racialise the wildlife industry, it must be done methodically. No need to antagonise anyone,” Mzembi said last week.
But Kasukuwere urged Mzembi to give him space to make rational, independent decisions devoid of Zanu PF Masvingo factional fights.
Kasukuwere said: “Indigenising the wildlife industry has nothing to do with (Zanu PF) faction politics in Masvingo province. We should not be emotional and childish about it. We are the leadership in the sector and we have the full facts. We urge faction leaders not to speak on matters they do not understand or, more so, know so much as to mislead the nation.
“Let those in the know take the lead and engage all stakeholders as we have been doing for the good of the country. We have more information on what is happening and, therefore, emotional and childish politicians should confine themselves to the provinces; there is no need for them to get involved on national issues. In terms of empowering the indigenous blacks, let us make no mistake about it: We will do that for as long as it will benefit the country.”
Kasukuwere added: “(Mzembi) has no business talking about anti-poaching; (he) must just confine himself to the carnival business, that is, if it’s not under the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture.”
The indigenisation of Save Valley Conservancy has taken a political twist after politicians from the Mujuru faction were left out in the equation as the bulk of beneficiaries reportedly belonged to either the Mnangagwa faction and top army generals. Kasukuwere said he was answerable to Mugabe and not any faction.
Safari Club International (SCI) — a not-for-profit international organisation that promotes sustainable utilisation of wildlife resources through sport hunting — yesterday also said it was hopeful that the revision was just the first step in a process of rescinding the suspension of elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
This “haphazard” decision to suspend imports based on “anecdotal evidence”, SCI said, would have a profound negative impact on elephant conservation.
Community Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources Association (Campfire) director and noted conservationist Charles Jonga recently stated that the suspension posed an unprecedented threat to all future conservation efforts of the African elephant in Zimbabwe’s rural areas.
“SCI continues to request that USFWS completely lift the suspension before the millions of dollars hunters invest in conservation in Africa completely dry up; and as a result exponentially increases poaching in the process due to loss of critical enforcement in the field,” SCI said.