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ZANU PF'S LEGACY TO ZIMBABWE
'What is man without beasts? If all the beasts
are gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever
happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.'
A Report compiled by Jenny Sharman, November 2001.
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Zimbabwe hits a new level of crisis as Mugabe's latest Presidential decree, instructing that all white farmers be issued with a 'Section 8', effectively removes all rights for the owner to occupy, hold or use the land. Should anyone contest this new ruling, the perpetrator will be fined Z$20,000 or face up to two years in jail. Whilst this political game intensifies as elections draw near, it's not only the people and economy of Zimbabwe that are falling victim to this gross misuse of power, it is also the environment and the wildlife, the country's main resources outside of agriculture. Zimbabwe's conservancy areas in the south east of the country, specifically set aside for wildlife conservation and tourism, are currently under siege. The wildlife is being poached beyond belief, trees that have taken a hundred years or more to grow are hacked from their roots and vast tracts of land have been set alight. For the past two years the government has insisted the conservancy land would be spared the invasions, but this assurance is startlingly contrary to the devastating evidence on the ground.
Now it appears the conservancies are to be specifically targeted. On Tuesday the 20th of November, the Minister for Lands and Agriculture announced that 'approved' conservancies and remaining commercial farms would all be sub-divided into maximum sized plots of 2000 hectares.
Digby Nesbitt, Chairman of the Chiredzi Conservancy, has reached a stage of desperation. 'The situation is the conservancies are not being recognised, all that matters at the moment is staying in power, they don't care about the wildlife. The Abuja agreement is a joke, people are still moving on in their droves. People at the top are saying 'yes you need conservancies and tourism is important', but the priority in their lives is the next elections. What they don't understand is that the wildlife's in such a delicate state that if you leave it another 4 months there'll be nothing left. We've been paying out for the effects of the drought for the past 10 years and this long-term investment has just been smashed as the game we've put in has been killed. Even if the poaching and invasions stopped tomorrow it'd take another 10 years to recuperate. I don't believe this conservancy will last another 6 months.'
Under such conditions, just what hope is there for Zimbabwe's wilderness areas, and how can the Zimbabwean government economically justify this wanton destruction of one of the country's prime resources, foreign income earners and a major source of employment? In his press release the minister announced, 'The pace of land acquisition needs to be enhanced for the sake of social stability, poverty alleviation, peace and justice'.
I would like to present the following to you so that you may judge for yourself just how the past destruction, and the government's future intentions, can possibly achieve these aims as far as the conservancies are concerned. I would also like you to consider, in view of the South African, Zimbabwean and Mozambican governments' recent commitment to the Trans-Frontier Peace Parks, just how Zimbabwe's current policies are going to affect the process and the overall prosperity of the region.