A directive by the Zanu PF politburo for Masvingo Zanu PF heavyweights and army generals to get out of money-spinning conservancies in the Lowveld has boosted Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi’s efforts to promote Zimbabwe as an attractive tourist destination.
Mzembi has over the past months opposed the parcelling out of the conservancies to the Zanu PF officials, earning the wrath of his comrades who were eyeing the lucrative safari business in the Save Valley conservancy.
Recently Mzembi’s stance attracted fierce criticism from Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere who said he was being “childish” by opposing the allocation of the conservancies to party officials.
The tourism minister, who favours a broad based approach which would not result in chaos in the conservancies which would scare away tourists, was also attacked in a state newspaper that labelled him “counter revolutionary”.
Mzembi, who is the UNTWO commission for Africa chairman, is pushing for zero tolerance to poaching in Zimbabwe. The minister has stepped up efforts to project Zimbabwe’s image abroad after over 100 elephants were poisoned with cyanide in Hwange late last year. The killings outraged conservationists and animal lovers across the world.
The announcement by the politburo on Monday that top army officials and politicians should move out of the conservancy will lift the spirits of wildlife stakeholders who were worried about the possible decimation of the animal sanctuaries in the Lowveld, The Standard was told.
Properties under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippas) will also spared. These include Sango, Sabi, Chishakwe, Masapasi, Makore, Gunundwe and Chamurwe ranches.
Mzembi, who recently led a delegation to China for the World Travel and Tourism Council meeting (WTTC) could not be reached for comment, where he met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.