Nhema approved partnership in conservancies


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Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema approved a Public Private Community Partnership Trust seven years ago to tap private conservancies and access capital and international connections to finance tourism concessions in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

The trust included the Department of National Parks, the Save Valley Conservancy, Malilangwe and the local communities living in and around Gonarezhou.

Tourism was expected to generate a return on private investment and an income stream for local communities in exchange for their commitment to refrain from subsistence poaching.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE1301, TRANS-FRONTIER PARK UPDATE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1301

2005-09-19 14:38

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001301

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

TREASURY FOR J. RALYEA

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

USDOI/FWS FOR RICHARD RUGGIERO

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: SENV ETRD ECON KIDE ZI

SUBJECT: TRANS-FRONTIER PARK UPDATE

 

REF: HARARE 1238

 

SUBJECT: TRANS-FRONTIER PARK UPDATE

 

Ref: Harare 1238

 

——–

Summary

——–

 

1. (SBU) Since assuming the coordinating role in the Great

Limpopo Trans-Frontier Park (GLTP) in January 2005, the GOZ

has neither coordinated with stakeholders nor taken adequate

steps to develop the infrastructure in Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou

National Park. While fast-track land reform and land tenure

uncertainty stymie Zimbabwe,s active participation in the

tri-country initiative, South Africa and Mozambique are

pressing ahead. Save Valley Conservancy (SVC) and the

Malilangwe Trust (each of which include U.S. citizen

principals) have offered to use their international contacts

and access to capital to help finance the Park,s

infrastructure development through a Public Private Community

Partnership. In return, the conservancies want secure land

title and GOZ assistance in resettling squatters off the

protected land. The passage of the Constitutional Amendments

Bill on August 30, however, further jeopardizes the

conservancies, property rights and creates an environment of

uncertainty around public private initiatives to develop the

Trans-Frontier Park under GOZ leadership. End Summary.

 

——————————————— ——

As Zimbabwe Stalls, South Africa and Mozambique Act

——————————————— ——

 

2. (SBU) The Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, along with

the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Limpopo

National Park in Mozambique, comprise the 100,000 square

kilometer GLTP ) one of the biggest wildlife sanctuaries in

Africa. Chairman of the National Parks and Wildlife

Authority George Pangeti told Econoff on August 18 that

infrastructure development at Gonarezhou was progressing

rapidly. The Authority had a GLTP coordinator in place who

was consulting with stakeholders. In addition, the GOZ had

decided to move settlers out of the Park after their harvest

season. Pangeti stated categorically that the GOZ had

decided to include the SVC and Malilangwe Trust in the GLTP.

He dismissed the Trusts, concerns about land tenure security.

 

3. (SBU) According to University of Zimbabwe Environment

Professor David Cummings, Zimbabwe has not built adequate

tourism infrastructure for the development of the GLTP.

Continued confusion over land tenure rights and the failure

of the GOZ to move settlers out of Gonarezhou have frustrated

any significant progress. Raoul DuToit of the World Wildlife

Fund told Econoff in August that formal local and national

structures and institutions were in place for effective

development of Gonarezhou but the GOZ had failed to

coordinate, make decisions, or push the process forward.

 

4. (SBU) In the same vein, Giuseppe DaConto of CESVI (the

Italian counterpart to USAID, which has been funding

development projects in Gonarezhou) complained to Econoff

that the GOZ had not consulted with stakeholders adequately,

a concern echoed by Cummings, DuToit, and Clive Stockil of

the SVC. All three compared the Zimbabwean coordinator,s

inaction unfavorably to the steady dialogue that took place

under Mozambique,s leadership in 2004.

 

5. (SBU) Cummings told PolOff (and DaConto later confirmed)

that South Africa and Mozambique were moving ahead with their

GLTP development plans. The two countries have recently torn

down fences and opened a bridge between the Kruger and

Limpopo National Parks.

 

——————————————— —

Zimbabwe Private Sector Willing to Assist . . .

——————————————— —

 

6. (SBU) Weldon Schenck, an American investor in the SVC,

told Econoff on August 23 that Environment and Tourism

Minister Francis Nhema had approved a Public Private

Community Partnership (PPCP) Trust including the National

Parks, SVC, Malilangwe, and the local communities living in

and around Gonarezhou. The Trust could tap the private

conservancies, access to capital and international

connections to finance tourism concessions in the GLTP.

Tourism would generate a return on private investment and an

income stream for local communities in exchange for their

commitment to refrain from subsistence poaching. Schenck and

Stockil told Econoff they hoped to leverage their willingness

to help the GOZ with GLTP infrastructure development to gain

secure land tenure.

 

7. (SBU) As part of this plan, DuToit explained to Econoff,

the GOZ would allocate ten concessions in Gonarezhou to

develop tourism facilities. The PPCP Trust would be

guaranteed two of these concessions and could bid on more.

However, DuToit expressed concern that the GOZ would hand out

the tenders within its patronage network rather than to

parties dedicated to sustainable tourism development. There

were some indications that this had indeed happened, he said,

although tender winners had not yet been named officially.

Pangeti, in a separate meeting, adamantly denied that the

National Parks would grant concessions to anyone but

conservation minded individuals.

 

——————————————

. . . But Might Have Lost Bargaining Power

——————————————

 

8. (SBU) On August 30, the Parliament of Zimbabwe passed the

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bills (reftel) that, among

other things, granted title to the government of all

agricultural properties previously designated for acquisition

by the GOZ. Since all the properties in the SVC and

Malilangwe Trust have received notices of designation for

acquisition, the GOZ could acquire them at any time. As a

practical matter, however, whether or how quickly the GOZ

will act to remove or take control over privately held

wildlife areas remains to be seen.

 

9. (SBU) According to Stockil, the SVC,s property rights are

unclear. Although designated for agriculture, the GOZ is

re-categorizing the area for tourism/wildlife use but had not

yet confirmed the change. Stockil planned to move forward

with the Public Private Community Partnership Trust and

present it to the highest levels of the GOZ. He said the SVC

had nothing to gain by forcing an immediate GOZ decision on

the status of its land tenure but could indirectly influence

the outcome if the GOZ agreed to the conservancy,s proposal

to develop the GLTP and help the local rural communities.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

10. (SBU) Land tenure insecurity and an extremely unfavorable

investment climate are driving international investment away

from an otherwise exciting regional wildlife park.

Nonetheless, private conservancies with an established stake

in the Park have been willing to help the GOZ attract

investment in exchange for secure land tenure. Passage of

the Constitutional Amendment Bill, however, has cast yet

another layer of uncertainty over the conservancies,

property rights and their ability to engage the GOZ in an

effective development partnership. The GOZ,s instincts to

allocate resources through its patronage system and its

penchant for taking self-destructive action do not bode well

for its vibrant participation in this regional wildlife park.

Perhaps the best hope is that the GOZ may recognize the

potential for increased tourism revenue and allow a rational

approach to developing the park to prevail, but the evidence

thus far does not favor an optimistic outlook.

DELL

(3 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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