Mzembi must speak out

HARARE - It’s ironic that just a year before the World Tourism Conference is to be jointly hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe all hell is breaking loose in the Save  Valley Conference.

Ironic is it, or careful timing?

Just after senior Zanu PF officials were granted hunting concessions in the Savé  Conservancy, the problems escalated.  

The vice chairperson of the Save Conservancy, Wilfried Pabst, said the Masvingo governor, Chiredzi South MP and a gang of thugs pushed their way into a meeting between National Parks and the conservancy that was being held at conservancy grounds.

Pabst said the group “screamed and hollered” and then tried to vote out the conservancy committee.
“They voted me down as vice chair. Our chairman was also voted down. Of course it is all ridiculous and there is no legal base for it. But either way they have jambanjad the Savé  Valley.”

Determined to expose the situation, the Save Valley Conservancy have done what farmers and miners before them didn’t do, they have gone big with the story.

Perhaps they learnt from those that fell before them that keeping a low profile and trying to do deals just doesn’t work.

In a dramatic series of half page adverts in the press last week the Save Valley Conservancy have been spelling it out in plain and simple terms everyday.  

“About 30 greedy individuals want to destroy agreements and policies that have made Save  the world leader in conservation management,” the advert reads.

Sadly, the main lobbyist for the UN’s  WTO Conference to be hosted in Zimbabwe, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, hasn’t said anything about the attempted takeover of the Save Conservancy.

The minister’s silence makes a mockery of the gushing promises he made when Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to host the 2013 UN Tourism Conference.

Speaking after the announcement of the venue, Mzembi said: “Zimbabwe is a comeback kid and has modest and peaceful people. We are governing by consensus. We are dealing with our political problems from within and are happy about our progress. We are communicating a message of peace and tranquillity. Come and we will show you your new home. This is the real Africa and African hospitality. Nothing beats what we will show you.”

Nothing beats what the Save Valley is showing the world every day in its press adverts.

The conservancy warns that thousands of new jobs are threatened, tens of thousands stand to lose their livelihoods and tens of millions of dollars of investment will be destroyed by a greedy few.

Speaking to the press,  Pabst said: “Let’s end the madness of a few. We cannot host a global tourism conference and on the other hand destroy one of Zimbabwe’s tourism jewels because a few want to lay their hands on the treasure.”

A few people laying their hands on the national treasure is the tragically repetitive litany of our recent history but when it comes to wild animals there aren’t any second chances.

“Kana yapera…yapera” (When they’re gone, they’re gone) is the motto on the website home page of the Savé Valley Conservancy.

Like minister Mzembi they know what tourists coming to Zimbabwe want to see.

The vast majority want to see things they’ve only seen in books or wildlife documentaries.
They don’t want to see multi-millionaire governors, MP’s and politicians in designer clothes and swanky cars.

They want to see elephants, rhinos and lions.

They want to be out in the bush where they can watch giraffe, kudu and zebra in their natural habitat and hear hippo grunting in the rivers.

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