ZANU-PF parcelling out Save before MDC take-over


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The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leadership in Masvingo was parcelling out the Save Valley conservancy ahead of the appointment of a Movement for Democratic Change governor.

Reports at the time said that the ZANU-PF governor Titus Maluleke was going to be replaced by MDC candidate Lucia Matibenga.

That has never happened.

Ten of the 22 properties had been parcelled out to ZANU-PF heavyweights who besides Maluleke included:

  • Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Stan Mudenge
  • Former Masvingo Governor Josiah Hungwe
  • Director of Conservation in the Parks Authority Vitalis Chadenga
  • Major General Engelbert Rugeje, Chief of Staff to the Zimbabwean Army Chiredzi South MP Aaron Baloyi
  • Former Chipinge South MP Enock Porusingazi; and
  • Former Gutu South MP and Former Deputy Minister of Youth Shuvai Mahofa.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09HARARE444, ZANU-PF GOVERNOR FORCING HIMSELF ON AMCIT-OWNED CONSERVANCY

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09HARARE444

2009-05-29 12:09

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5837

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0444/01 1491209

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 291209Z MAY 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4538

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2290

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2847

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2966

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1405

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2229

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2594

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3014

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5455

RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2138

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 HARARE 000444

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR M. GAVIN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

STATE PASS TO FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVIE FOR M. GADD

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ASEC SENV PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM CASC ZI

 

SUBJECT: ZANU-PF GOVERNOR FORCING HIMSELF ON AMCIT-OWNED CONSERVANCY

 

REF: 07 Harare 598

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

 

1. (SBU) After years of successfully avoiding land invasions,

Zimbabwe’s private conservancies now face the threat of forced

“indigenous partnerships” that–if carried out–will likely deter

further investment and derail significant conservation gains. Under

the Wildlife-Based Land Reform Policy–an internally approved policy

not backed by legislation–private conservancy owners will allegedly

have to give up the titles to their land in exchange for a 25-year

lease and must take on “indigenous” partners to own at least 51

percent of the property. Several landowners in the Save Valley

Conservancy (SVC), including one American, have been summoned to the

Masvingo governor’s office to meet the new ZANU-PF-affiliated

partners that the governor is attempting to force upon them.

Importantly, the SVC is the largest privately-owned wildlife

conservancy in Africa and home to about one fifth of Zimbabwe’s

rhinoceros. Unlike in Zimbabwe’s national parks, rhinos have

demonstrated high reproduction rates in the SVC thanks largely to

the Conservancy’s vigorous and expensive anti-poaching and

conservation efforts. If these partnerships are forced upon the

landowners, continued investment and vigorous anti-poaching efforts

will likely wane, further endangering both rhinos and investor

confidence in Zimbabwe. END SUMMARY.

 

———————————–

Background: Save Valley Conservancy

———————————–

 

2. (U) The Save Valley Conservancy (SVC) is a privately-owned

wildlife reserve of one million acres in southeastern Zimbabwe, an

area commonly referred to as the Lowveld. The Conservancy comprises

22 properties that share a common boundary fence. In the mid-1980s,

with the end of cattle ranching subsidies and due to continued

outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, landowners hired a consultancy

firm to evaluate the economic and environmental feasibility of

converting the cattle ranches back to wildlife. The study confirmed

the shift could be difficult and expensive at first, but in the long

run profitable. During the late 1980s and 1990s, owners pooled

their resources and restocked the conservancy by transporting

elephants, giraffes, black rhinos, white rhinos, and other big game

to the area.

 

3. (U) When SVC was officially formed in 1991, the 18 original

owners intended to market photographic tourism. As tourism declined

in the past decade, SVC operators began to rely on the more

lucrative hunting market for the majority of their revenue. Most of

the landowners have small lodges where they operate photographic and

hunting safari operations. Working with Zimbabwe’s parastatal

Qhunting safari operations. Working with Zimbabwe’s parastatal

National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Parks), the SVC is

given a quota of animals for hunting in any given year.

 

————————-

Amcit-Owned Hammond Ranch

————————-

 

4. (SBU) American citizens Weldon and Kathy Schenck purchased one

property, Hammond Ranch in 1996, converted it from a cattle ranch

 

HARARE 00000444 002 OF 005

 

 

into a game ranch, restocked indigenous animals, and joined the SVC.

They received approval from the Zimbabwe Investment Center (ZIC)

and met and exceeded all of ZIC’s investment and employment

criteria. Their ZIC Permit was recently renewed. The Schencks

built a safari lodge in 1998 and have since been operating

photographic and hunting safaris. Their combined operations at

Hammond—including a safari operating and marketing

partner–generate a minimum of US$250,000 annually for Zimbabwe.

They employ over 40 people full time and more part time, and provide

financial and other support to the local communities surrounding

Hammond.

 

5. (SBU) Like other SVC landowners, the Schencks have made an effort

to help the surrounding communities. For example, the Nyangambe

Embroidery Project started by Kathy Schenck in the community

adjacent to Hammond to the south provides part time, piece-work jobs

to over 600 women in the Nyangambe Resettlement Area. In addition,

the Schencks are currently funding the development of a unique

wildlife project in which the Nyangambe community has joined the SVC

by devoting 7,500 acres of land to wildlife. The Schencks have

provided the community with fencing, restocking, anti-poaching, and

marketing. The community receives trophy fees, which totaled about

US$5,000 last year in addition to the meat from all animals shot on

their land. This is a first: direct community involvement by a

community in the wildlife industry without inclusion of District

Councils (per Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE program – Communal Areas

Management Program for Indigenous Resources) and other higher-ups

which often prevent the financial benefits from reaching the

community.

 

——————————

Land Reform and Indigenization

——————————

 

6. (U) Because the SVC is conservation land, it has been governed by

legislation under the Parks Authority and the Ministry of

Environment, which has saved it from fast-track land reform that has

redistributed farm land since its inception in 2000. However, under

the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act of 2008, all

businesses should seek to have majority indigenous partners

(reftel), which SVC owners do not have.

 

7. (SBU) Schenck told us that he has been trying to identify local

partners since 2002. Last year, working with the Parks Authority,

the SVC owners established three possible means to bring on local

partners: (1) current owner plus the local community, (2) current

owner plus local investor, (3) current owner plus Parks. All of the

current owners have a strong desire to bring on additional investors

who are committed to wildlife conservation and who understand that

Qwho are committed to wildlife conservation and who understand that

it is a long-term investment with significant up-front costs and a

slow financial return.

 

8. (SBU) However, last year the Ministry of Environment (which

continues to be led by Minister Francis Nhema) reportedly adopted a

new policy, termed the Wildlife Based Land Reform Policy. (NOTE:

After numerous attempts to obtain the policy from the Ministry and

Parks, a Parks staffer finally sent us a copy of the policy–a 2004

document that is still marked “draft.” He was unaware of any other

policy or amendments to this draft document. END NOTE.) One

provision of this draft policy states that when land is acquired by

the State and re-distributed on a leasehold basis, leases should be

between 20 and 99 years. The document further explains that for

land that remains freehold (as in Hammond’s case) the units should

 

HARARE 00000444 003 OF 005

 

 

be owned by companies in order to facilitate the transfer of

shareholders to new participants. The policy concludes by saying

that new entrepreneurs that wish to take up shareholdings shall be

required to purchase the shares in accordance with the Ministry of

Environment and Tourism (now two ministries, both controlled by

ZANU-PF). These applicants will be selected on the basis of their

ability to purchase equity in the wildlife business, as well as

their knowledge and commitment to the venture. However, a group of

ZANU-PF heavyweights in Masvingo have twisted thi policy–which is

not terribly egregious on paper–and informed the SVC landowners

that they need to take on specific “indigenous partners” and trade

in their title deeds in exchange for a 25 year lease. The new

partners have not offered to purchase any shares or make any

contribution to the conservancy.

 

——————-

Here’s Your Partner

——————-

 

9. (SBU) On May 13, Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke summoned SVC

Chairman Clive Stockil and the SVC Vice Chairman to a meeting on May

16 to discuss new partners for the Conservancy. At the meeting,

attendees saw, but were not given, lists of new partners for various

properties within the SVC.

 

10. (SBU) Several other landowners were summoned to the provincial

administrator’s office for a May 22 meeting to meet their new

partners. The Schenck’s local manager, George Hulme, was informed

that the new partners for Hammond Ranch would be Governor Maluleke

and Lieutenant Colonel David Moyo. In the meeting, the governor

explained to Hulme that the inclusive government had agreed that the

land reform process would not be reversed and said he was carrying

out a policy that could not be reversed. In all, 10 of the 22

properties have been allocated new partners through this program.

 

11. (SBU) Several ZANU-PF heavyweights either attended one of the

meetings or were listed as prospective partners. (NOTE: Most or all

are affiliated with Emmerson Mnangagwa. END NOTE.) In addition to

Governor Maluleke, those involved include:

 

— Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Stan Mudenge

— Former Masvingo Governor Josiah Hungwe

— Director of Conservation in the Parks Authority Vitalis Chadenga.

Chadenga was involved in the uncompensated takeover of another

American-owned conservancy in Midlands province in 2002.

— Major General Engelbert Rugeje, Chief of Staff to the Zimbabwean

Army. Rugeje was previously reported to us for his involvement in

election-related violence in 2008, particularly for use of the Army

in intimidating and coercing voters.

— Chiredzi South MP Aaron Baloyi. In 2001, Baloyi and a group of

Q– Chiredzi South MP Aaron Baloyi. In 2001, Baloyi and a group of

war vets abducted and held a group of game wardens hostage for three

days while they looted a white-owned farm.

— Former Chipinge South MP Enock Porusingazi. Porusingazi is

notorious for using violence in Chipinge South. He was most

recently involved in bringing a case against the current MP, Mathias

Mlambo, for obstruction of justice in April 2009.

— Former Gutu South MP and Former Deputy Minister of Youth Shuvai

Mahofa.

 

12. (SBU) The current landowners plan to use their usual strategy of

not signing anything and avoiding direct confrontation while seeking

diplomatic and other advocacy to stop the attempted forced

partnerships. One particularly vocal German property owner has

 

HARARE 00000444 004 OF 005

 

 

received assurances from Secretary to the Prime Minister Ian Makone

that Minister Nhema has confirmed that no partners will be forced on

operators. According to Makone, Nhema confirmed this arrangement to

Tsvangirai before the May 22 meeting in Masvingo.

 

13. (SBU) Even if the MDC and ZANU-PF figureheads in Harare have

worked out an arrangement, it appears the ZANU-PF provincial

authorities in Masvingo are carrying on with their mission to impose

themselves on SVC owners. Given that the proposed governor for

Masvingo province, Lucia Matibenga, is from the MDC, it appears the

current governor is trying to push the partnerships along quickly

before Matibenga is sworn in. Tsvangirai has said the new governors

will be sworn in “at the soonest opportunity.”

 

——————————————— ———

Rhinos Thrive on Private Land, Face Poachers Elsewhere

——————————————— ———

 

14. (U) In addition to the obvious concerns about these forced

business partnerships, wildlife stands to lose as well. Thanks

largely to the expensive protection and anti-poaching efforts by SVC

landowners, wildlife has thrived in the Conservancy. The rhino

population, in particular, has demonstrated exceptional growth rates

of 8-10 percent annually in the SVC and other privately-owned

conservancies in the Lowveld (normal levels are 2-5 percent).

Currently, over 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s remaining rhinos live in

the Lowveld conservancies, and 20 percent live in the SVC alone. In

fact, when we visited the SVC in March, we were fortunate enough to

see two of Zimbabwe’s remaining 282 white rhinos.

 

15. (SBU) Unfortunately, poaching pressure has dramatically

increased in the last three years. According to Raoul du Toit, a

rhino expert with the World Wildlife Fund in Harare, Zimbabwe’s

rhino population declined from 846 in 2005 to 805 in 2008. Given

the high rates of reproduction, Zimbabwe’s population should have

been about 980 at the end of 2008, leading him to estimate that 175

rhinos were lost to poaching during that three year period.

 

16. (SBU) Remarkably, of the more than thirty suspected poachers who

have been arrested not one has been convicted, even when they have

confessed or there has been ballistic evidence. For example, in

December, poachers were caught at a roadblock near Masvingo with an

AK-47 rifle and cartridges. The pair admitted to having the gun

illegally. The gun had been seen earlier near a site where a rhino

was shot, and there were marks in the ground where the rifle had

been partially buried near the rhino. However, some evidence was

not presented in trial and they were mysteriously acquitted of

Qnot presented in trial and they were mysteriously acquitted of

possessing an arm of war.

 

17. (SBU) Poaching has been most predominant in Zimbabwe’s national

parks and communal lands where Parks guides lack the resources to

conduct effective anti-poaching patrols. Conservationists fear that

if these partnerships go through, investors will not have the

resources or will to continue funding expensive anti-poaching

efforts. In addition, some believe that ZANU-PF heavyweights in the

police, military, and Parks (e.g. Chadenga) are behind the

corruption that is believed to be behind the lack of poaching

convictions.

 

18. (SBU) In March 2009, the Secretary General of the Convention on

International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) contacted

Zimbabwean authorities asking them to prepare an evaluation of

Zimbabwe’s rhino population and anti-poaching efforts in advance of

 

HARARE 00000444 005 OF 005

 

 

next year’s CITES conference. If rhino poaching continues to

increase and enforcement is lax, Zimbabwe may face consequences at

the CITES conference.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

19. (SBU) While the inclusive government continues to tout its

success in achieving unity and moving forward with “problem” issues,

we continue to see cases of the old guard acting as if nothing has

changed as they continue with arbitrary arrests, politically

trumped-up charges, and land seizures. The saga in the Save Valley

does not surprise us, but it certainly does disappoint. Ironically,

the Minister of Tourism is hosting a conference in a few weeks on

Tourism Investor Confidence; we hope the Save issue will be raised

as a barrier to investment. Although we can hold out hope that

respect for property rights and rhinos will win the day, we know

better than to expect ZANU-PF to do the right thing. In all

likelihood, the landowners in SVC will face long, drawn out battles

with their new forced partners as they wait for the implementation

of pro-business and pro-conservation policies in Zimbabwe.

 

MCGEE

 

(16 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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