Who killed hunting profits in Zimbabwe?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2004:
HARARE–The search for someone to blame is underway in Zimbabwe.
“We have a situation where the previous hunting season earned $24
million U.S. and then suddenly the last hunting season earned only
$13 million,” fumed National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
chief executive Morris Mtsambiwa to Isadore Guvamombe of the
government-controlled Harare Herald in mid-August 2004.
“Our question is, what happened to the other $11 million?
Investigations are in progress,” Mtsambiwa continued.
Mtsambiwa said nothing of land occupations by mobs of “war
veterans,” confiscations of especially attractive properties by
corrupt public officials, uncontrolled poaching, and the near
complete destruction of many of Zimbabwe’s renowned private wildlife
conservancies. His remarks, however, hinted at a pretext for
“Hunting proceeds are paid in advance to the safari
operators,” Guva-mombe wrote, “but last year many operators,
working in cahoots with white former farmers, devised methods of
circumventing foreign currency declaration procedures.”
Hwange safari operator Headman Sibanda meanwhile sued
Zimbabwean environment and tourism minister Francis Nhema for
allegedly improperly awarding a hunting concession to a company
headed by a Nhema associate named Marble Dete.
Sibanda may have felt encouraged by political history: Nhema
is married to a daughter of the late Joshua Nkomo, who with Robert
Mugabe led the struggle that in 1980 overturned apartheid rule in the
nation then called Rhodesia. Nkomo and Mugabe then fought each other
from 1982 until 1990, when they formed a mutually mistrustful
coalition government. Nkomo died in 1999.
While Sibanda pressed charges against Nhema, Nhema suspended
and ordered an investigation of Vitalis Chadenga, identified by
Financial Gazette of Harare writer Njabulo Ncube as “a director at
the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority,” accused of “corruptly
capturing wild animals for sale at the country’s major wildlife
On August 20, Zimbabwe Independent writer Godfrey
Marawanyika detailed the case actually brought against Chadenga: he
was allegedly given a travel allowance of $500 U.S. to visit South
Africa, but visited Mozambique instead, and “is also accused of
writing a letter to a warden of the Nyaman-eche sanctuary,
instructing him to capture stray animals that were destroying crops
and disrupting resettled people.”
Amid that fracas, London Daily Telegraph correspondent Peta
Thorneycroft revealed that Zimbabwean information minister Jonathan
Moyo in 2003 seized the Sikumi Tree Lodge and 45,000 surrounding
acres, described as “a showpiece of eco-tourism,” and turned it
into a hunting ranch.
Moyo acted after legal owner Thys de Vries, 44, and his
wife, three children, and staff, fled an armed gang.
Moyo also recently bought rights to a confiscated farm from
the Zimbabwean government, Thorneycroft wrote.
“The farm is still legally owned by the estate of Tom Bayley,
a Briton,” said Thorneycroft. “Bayley, 88, was under siege for 35
days before he fell and broke a leg and abandoned the farm he had
worked for 66 years. He died a week later.
“Moyo,” Thorneycroft recounted, “was appointed to
[Zimbabwean president] Robert Mugabe’s cabinet in 2000, and drafted
media laws widely regarded as among the world’s most repressive.”