Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Editorial Comment: Communities should benefit from game proceeds

Editorial Comment: Communities should benefit from game proceeds

Zimbabwe which has since independence been grappling with the challenge of correcting the land ownership imbalances, has taken measures to ensure in the process it preserves its flora and fauna. A number of conservancies were as a result spared from being acquired for resettlement.

Safari operators, who are mostly whites, continue to occupy conservancies which are found in a number of provinces that include both Matabeleland North and South, Masvingo and Mashonaland West. These safari operators continue to directly benefit from the country’s natural resources at the expense of locals.

It is unfortunate that 35 years after independence, these safari owners still believe that the animals within their conservancies should only benefit them and not the rest of Zimbabweans hence they continue to engage in clandestine deals meant to prejudice the state of millions of dollars that are supposed to be derived from its game.

President Mugabe recently said the government is not happy with the state of affairs in private safaris and conservancies where owners make secret arrangements with overseas hunters to kill animals without the knowledge of the government.

He said because of these clandestine deals, the government was not aware of how much the owners were pocketing from hunting proceeds.

President Mugabe said the government is supposed to approve the animals to be killed so that it gets its share of the proceeds. The challenge to the government therefore is to put in place mechanisms to ensure all conservancies account for each animal killed so that locals start benefiting from their natural resources.

Communities within mining areas are already benefiting from the exploitation of minerals in their given areas through the ‘Community Share Ownership Scheme’ and the same should happen to those communities where there are conservancies. Those that are not prepared to share the benefits of the country’s natural resources with the rest of Zimbabweans have no place in this country.

It is probably time to start auditing the conservancies to establish the potential of each conservancy for the purposes of accountability. It is a fact that some of the conservancies still have the Rhodesian mentality of regarding blacks as second class citizens hence the treatment of workers in these conservancies leaves a lot to be desired.

We need to free these workers who are still under bondage as a result of unrepentant whites. It is time whites are told in no uncertain terms that an independent Zimbabwe does not tolerate selfish individuals who want to continue benefiting from the country’s natural resources at the expense of the majority.

The government should therefore come up with a time frame for the conservancies to come up with programmes that ensure communities within their areas start benefiting directly from game proceeds. Problem animals from conservancies continue to cause havoc in nearby communities where they are destroying crops and killing livestock yet these communities are not benefiting from proceeds from the same animals.

It is our hope that the government will soon come up with a programme to enable blacks to gradually takeover these conservancies which cannot be a preserve of the whites forever.


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