Zim's disregard of bilateral agreements reduce chances of co-hosting UNWTO

HARARE - A repeated disregard of bilateral agreements may jeopardise Zimbabwe’s chances of co-hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly this year, German ambassador to Zimbabwe Hans Gnodtke has said.

Gnodtke said public press reports last year seemed to insinuate the Germans were involved in some sinister plot to secretly translocate animals from the renowned Save wildlife sanctuary to Mozambique.  

Germans are heavily invested in Save and some have lost their businesses to cronies of President Robert Mugabe despite bilateral agreement protecting the properties.

“Let there be no doubt, we have not made a decision on whether to participate and at what level in the forthcoming UNWTO summit.

“If elements wishing to destroy wildlife and tourism infrastructure in Zimbabwe protected by bilateral agreements succeed, this would seriously affect Zimbabwe’s ability to host an international tourist conference and we have told the authorities about our position. However, we hope that responsibility will prevail,” said Gnodtke.

He said his country had been approached by an organisation on whose board President Robert Mugabe sits to fund animal translocation.

“Germany was approached by an organisation called Peace Park Foundation based in South Africa and co-founded by former South African President Nelson Mandela. It has a honourary board of which President Mugabe and other leaders in the region are members.

“They have suggested that since there is an overpopulation of some species due to intelligent conservation in the Save Conservancy, translocation of some of the animals to Gonarezhou is logical where there are decreases of the same population species that can no-longer be sustained in the conservancies,” Gnodtke said.

Zimbabwe is set to co-host the UNWTO with Zambia in August.

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