Conservationists take Government head-on

By Wellington Zimbowa
HWANGE conservationists are up in arms with the government for ‘facilitating’ environmental degradation through granting of coal exploration concessions inside Hwange National Park by Chinese companies namely, Afrochine Energy and the Zimbabwe Zhongxin Coal Mining Group.
A partner of Zimbabwe’s National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority in environment, Bhejane Trust says it intercepted the two companies conducting exploration inside Zimbabwe’s premier fauna and flora park, that is an international tourist attraction.
“We followed up on this and discovered the Government has allocated two coal mining concessions in the middle of Sinamatella and Robins. The mining concessions are Special Grants, which apparently can only be issued by the President, and both been granted to Chinese companies,” the environmental civic group said in a recent statement.
Sceptic environmentalists say Zimbabwe is in a desperate bid to alleviate the perennial power outages costing the country.
Ironically, Zimbabwe last year hosted the Wildlife Economy Summit to spearhead a Pan-African conservation vision in Victoria Falls.
Convened by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the African Union (AU) it was hosted by H.E. Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe.
Consumer spending on tourism, hospitality and recreation in Africa was estimated at $124 billion in 2015, is expected to reach $262 billion by 2030.
According to United Nations Environment Programme, if the motherland is to realize maximum benefits from its wildlife and ensure sustainable environmental progress, local people should be at the core of the nature-based economy and at the centre of any transactions.
“To save wildlife and preserve livelihoods, we must ensure that wild spaces remain a legitimate and competitive land-use option,” said Joyce Msuya, deputy executive director of UNEP said in a press release, prior to the summit.
He went on: “We must create a new and effective wildlife economy.“Africa has made significant headway in protecting natural spaces and conserving wildlife and ecosystems,” said H.E Ambassador Josefa Correia Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture. “It is high time to boost economies through Africa-led public-private partnerships that place communities at the heart of investment while taking into account the need to continue the conservation pathway.”

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