Mugabe cronies busting US sanctions through safari operations


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A dozen lieutenants of President Robert Mugabe were busting United States sanctions through safari operations which generated $17.5 million in 2004 despite a 50 percent decline in tourism.

A cable dispatched by the United States embassy on 19 December 2007 said 60 percent of the hunters that came to Zimbabwe were Americans.

The cable listed the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front cronies benefitting as:

  • – Edward Chindori-Chiningwa (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);
  • – Jocelyn Chiwenga (Matetsi Unit 6 Safari Area);
  • – Ignatius Chombo (Chiredzi River Conservancy);
  • – Dumiso Dabengwa (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);
  • – Joseph Made (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);
  • – Amos Midzi (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);
  • – Kembo Mohadi (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);
  • – Simon Moyo (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);
  • – Obert Mpofu (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);
  • – Webster Shamu (Chirisa Safari Area and 51 percent stake in Famba Safaris), wife also has a separate interest in Chete Safari Area, but she is not on the SDN list;
  • – Charles Utete (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);
  • – Paradzai Zimondi (Charara Safari Area);
  • – Lovemore Chihota (Matetsi Unit 7), brother of SDN Phineas Chihota;
  • – Thandi Nkomo (Tuli Safari Area), sister of SDN Louise Nkomo who is the spouse of SDN Francis Nhema.

Full cable:

Viewing cable 07HARARE1130, ZIMBABWE HUNTING SUPPORTS REGIME INSIDERS AND

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE1130

2007-12-19 12:36

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5607

PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1130/01 3531236

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 191236Z DEC 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2332

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1801

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1698

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1826

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0432

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1103

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1460

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1882

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4310

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0953

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 001130

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2017

TAGS: PHUM PREL SENV ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE HUNTING SUPPORTS REGIME INSIDERS AND

CONSERVATION EFFORTS

 

Classified By: Poloff Scott Higgins, reason: 1.4 d

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Summary. Despite a 50 percent decline in receipts

since 2004, the $17.5 million a year safari hunting business

remains an important source of foreign currency in Zimbabwe.

At least 12 regime insiders on the U.S. financial sanctions

list reportedly have interests in the industry. Hunting

revenue also provides essential funding for conservation

efforts. With little or no government support for the

National Parks and Wildlife Authority (Parks) and

conservation in general, income from hunting keeps Parks

functioning, provides local communities income for

conservation and development projects, and serves as the life

blood for the remaining private conservancies in the country.

End Summary.

 

——————————————-

Safari Hunting Still Viable, But In Decline

——————————————-

 

2. (U) Despite a sharp decline in tourism receipts over the

past couple of years, safari hunting in Zimbabwe remains an

important source of foreign currency. According to a

November 28 article in the government-controlled newspaper

The Herald, since January, safari hunting has contributed

$15.8 million (36 percent) of the $43.9 million brought in by

tourism to date. (Note. According to the GOZ’s October 1

Monetary Policy Statement, total forex earnings for 2006 were

about $1.7 billion, and are projected to be close to that for

2007; total international tourism earnings for 2007,

according to the Herald, will amount to only about $48

million, or 3 percent of overall forex receipts. End Note.)

While a 10-14 day trophy hunt in Zimbabwe is “cheap” by

comparison with other African countries, the cost is still

big money. The typical 10 day elephant hunt can cost $25,000

per person and a lion hunt can run $40,000. Americans

account for more than 60 percent of hunters coming to

Zimbabwe with the rest coming mostly from Europe.

 

3. (U) Prior to the start of the fast-track land reform

program in 2000, the commercial wildlife industry, including

hunting and eco-tourism, was growing. However, adverse

international publicity about declining socio-political

conditions and controversial hunting practices (including

high quotas, poaching, and poor wildlife management on

private land seized by regime insiders) has taken a severe

toll on the tourism industry and the safari hunting

sub-sector. Morris Mpofu, division chief of exchange control

at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, told participants at the

Safari Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ) annual

general meeting in November that safari hunting earnings had

fallen over 50 percent from $34.7 million in 2004.

 

————————

How the System It Works

————————

 

4. (U) There are three categories of land in Zimbabwe on

which hunting is allowed: state land, communal land, and

private land. On state land under the jurisdiction of Parks,

the 16 safari area hunting concessions are offered via a

public auction. However, any Zimbabwean – including a regime

insider – is free to participate and win. Plus, it is

impossible to ascertain who may be financially backing a

particular winning bidder. State land also includes 6 forest

area hunting concessions allocated by tender.

 

 

HARARE 00001130 002 OF 004

 

 

5. (C) In recent years, there have been reports that several

lucrative safari areas concessions were awarded without being

offered for public tender to allow regime insiders to gain

control of concessions at below market prices. Sally Bown, a

SOAZ representative, stressed that may have been a problem in

the past, but the most recent concession allocations have

been done in a fair and open manner. George Pangeti,

chairman of Parks and the Africa representative for Safari

Club International (SCI), told poloff that Parks now insists

on public auctions specifically to avoid undue political

interference and to ensure Parks receives the full value of

the offering. (Note: Parks is a financially self-sufficient

parastatal that receives no funding from the government

except for a specific allocation for development in

Gonarezhou National Park. End Note.)

 

6. (U) Hunting on communal lands is managed through the

Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources

(CAMPFIRE) program. There are 37 districts that participate

in the program, but only 12 generate revenue on a regular

basis accounting for 97 percent of all CAMPFIRE income.

About 90 percent of CAMPFIRE income comes from leasing trophy

hunting concessions. Under CAMPFIRE, wildlife revenues are

divided among the local communities, wildlife management, the

rural district councils, and the CAMPFIRE association.

Pangeti told us that the CAMPFIRE governing board recently

approved a measure to require all communal land concessions

to be allocated by public auction starting in 2008.

 

7. (U) Private land is the most controversial category from a

sanctioned individual/ property rights perspective. During

the fast-track land reform program, many farms, private game

reserves, and conservancy properties were seized and given

away as patronage to regime insiders and ruling party

supporters. There are no public records of ownership and

control of the seized land.

 

8. (U) Concession holders and private land owners sell their

hunting quotas either to a single safari operator on a

contractual basis for a season or book individual 10-14 day

hunts directly with safari operators or professional hunters.

Safari operators, professional hunters, and booking agents

regularly attend the annual SCI convention in Reno, Nevada to

solicit U.S. clients. They also do a considerable amount of

marketing on the Internet and in trade publications.

 

9. (U) A client typically pays a hunting registration fee to

Parks, a daily rate to the guide or safari operator (about

$1,000 per day), and a trophy fee for any animal taken.

Trophy fees accrue to Parks, CAMPFIRE, or the private land

owner depending on where the hunt takes place. The safari

operator or professional hunter may also charge an additional

trophy fee for their services. The current trophy fees are

about $12,000 for elephant, $6,500 for lion, $3,500 for

sable, $3,000 for hippo, and $2,500 for leopard. Parks also

charges an export fee for any trophy shipped out of the

country. The decision on where to hunt depends on a number

of factors, including cost, locale, and the client’s

expectations (e.g., wilderness experience or desire to shoot

a specific animal).

 

——————————————-

Sanctioned Nationals in the Safari Industry

——————————————-

 

10. (C) Although hunting revenues are declining, some

individuals on the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign

Assets Control (OFAC) list of Specially Designated Nationals

(SDNs) are still earning foreign currency from hunting. SDNs

have stakes in safari area concessions, safari operators, and

private land/ private hunting reserves. They do not have

 

HARARE 00001130 003 OF 004

 

 

interests in communal lands where, according to Don Heath, a

professional hunter and former Parks official, more that 50

percent of hunts with Americans take place.

 

11. (C) Establishing a connection between SDNs and their

safari interests is difficult because these individuals are

often careful to hide their direct involvement in the

business. According to Heath, the following OFAC-sanctioned

individuals are known to have a stake in a safari area

concession, safari operator, and private land/ private

hunting reserve:

 

– Edward Chindori-Chiningwa (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);

– Jocelyn Chiwenga (Matetsi Unit 6 Safari Area);

– Ignatius Chombo (Chiredzi River Conservancy);

– Dumiso Dabengwa (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);

– Joseph Made (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);

– Amos Midzi (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);

– Kembo Mohadi (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);

– Simon Moyo (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);

– Obert Mpofu (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);

– Webster Shamu (Chirisa Safari Area and 51 percent stake in

Famba Safaris), wife also has a separate interest in Chete

Safari Area, but she is not on the SDN list;

– Charles Utete (Gwaai Valley Conservancy);

– Paradzai Zimondi (Charara Safari Area);

– Lovemore Chihota (Matetsi Unit 7), brother of SDN Phineas

Chihota;

– Thandi Nkomo (Tuli Safari Area), sister of SDN Louise Nkomo

who is the spouse of SDN Francis Nhema.

 

(Note: Heath has agreed to assist in gathering documentation

on hunting properties and concessions of SDNs. Post will

forward any information received. End Note.)

 

——————————–

Conservation Depends on Hunting

——————————–

 

12. (U) The prolonged decline in the economy and rising

levels of food insecurity have contributed to a number of

threats against the once respected wildlife management and

conservation programs in the country. Desperation and

poverty, especially in rural areas, have led to an increase

in poaching and encroachment into wildlife areas, including

national parks and conservancies

 

13. (U) Parks’ conservation efforts, already under severe

strain due to a lack of resources, serve as the only line of

defense against increased poaching and resettlement in

national parks, including Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO

World Heritage Site, and Gonarezhou National Park, which is

part of the Great Limpopo Trans-Frontier Park, a tri-country

initiative including Mozambique and South Africa. According

to Dr. Morris Mtsambiwa, director general of Parks, 92

percent of Parks’ income is derived from hunting revenue,

which it uses to fund operational costs, including staffing

state lands with wardens and rangers, conducting

investigations and seizures in illegal wildlife trade, and

anti-poaching activities. Parks executives as well as every

NGO and private sector expert we consulted agreed that Parks

would collapse without income from hunting.

 

14. (U) Hunting revenue is also essential for local

communities that participate in the CAMPFIRE program. Almost

90 percent of CAMPFIRE income comes from trophy hunting

concessions. From 1998-2001, CAMPFIRE generated over $20

million for participating communities — of which

approximately 50 percent has been disbursed to communities

(118 wards and over 121,500 households), 20 percent used for

wildlife management, 12 percent retained by rural district

 

HARARE 00001130 004 OF 004

 

 

councils, 3 percent used for expenses, and 15 percent still

held by rural district councils pending allocation. Local

communities used the allocations to fund development projects

such as drilling new boreholes and building new schools and

clinics. The CAMPFIRE program is an important tool to

demonstrate to local communities the commercial value of

wildlife and to halt increased poaching and the ongoing

expansion of low-yielding, mainly subsistence agricultural

land use in wildlife areas. Hunting also provides a large

number of jobs to local communities.

 

15. (U) There also are a number of private wildlife

conservancies still operating in the country that allow

hunting, the largest being the Save Valley Conservancy (SVC)

located in the south eastern lowveld area of the country near

the border with Mozambique and South Africa. Formed in 1991,

the SVC is made up of 31 title properties (including an

American principal) covering 866,000 acres and holds a

significant proportion of Zimbabwe’s wild dog and rhino

populations, including the endangered black rhino. There are

also abundant populations of other southern Africa wildlife.

 

16. (U) Weldon Schenck, an American who owns Hammond Ranch in

the SVC, told us that with the collapse of Zimbabwe’s tourism

industry, the SVC now relies almost entirely on sport hunting

for income. Schenck added that without American hunters the

SVC would be out of business which would lead to an even

sharper increase in poaching and resettlement in the SVC as

well as other conservancy areas and national parks. Schenck

also highlighted that Hammond Ranch alone employs over 40

full time staff and supports 600 women in the Nyangambe

community through a profit generating project.

 

17. (U) The SVC is also involved with several other important

conservation projects. David Goosen, director of Sango Ranch

in the SVC, reported that the SVC recently finalized an

agreement with Parks to serve as a pilot program to take on

local communities as legal business partners. Under the

agreement, local communities will receive a set fee for each

type of animal killed on a particular section of the

conservancy in addition to receiving the meat from the

animal. The idea is to instill in the local communities that

wildlife has a financial value that needs to be protected

from poaching and to prevent further resettlement

encroachment into the conservancy. If successful, Parks

plans to replicate the program to at least six other private

conservancies throughout the country.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

18. (C) Targeting SDNs with interests in the hunting industry

would be difficult, although possible. A broader effort to

eliminate U.S. hunters from Zimbabwe would definitely effect

SDNs with hunting interests, but would potentially cause the

collapse of the hunting industry and would consequently have

a devastating effect on Parks, conservation in Zimbabwe,

biodiversity including the survival of specific endangered

species, and a number of local communities. End Comment.

MCGEE

(105 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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