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Did government plan to nationalise conservancies?

The government intended to acquire private nature conservancies, divide the businesses into multiple shares and pass on half the shares to black owners, according to the United States embassy.

The previous owners, who were mostly white, were to gradually pass on another 30 percent to the new owners over five years and thus end up with 20 percent.

The embassy said it was aware of two nature conservancies that were owned by white American citizens which could be affected under the plan.

It said the Save conservancy in Masvingo province was attempting to work out an arrangement with Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo where owners would partner with an indigenous group and avoid nationalization of their assets.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE579, GOZ could nationalize conservancies

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE579

2004-04-05 13:30

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 000579

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: SENV EAID BTIO EINV ECON PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: GOZ could nationalize conservancies

 

1. Summary: There is increasing worry the GOZ will

nationalize nature conservancies. Robert Mugabe’s

Government may view redistribution of wildlife assets as

the logical next phase of land reform. If mishandled,

however, such a move could harm the Zimbabwe’s wildlife

and recovery prospects. End summary.

 

Proposed Scheme

—————

2. An internal but widely leaked report calls for the GOZ

to acquire private conservancies, then divide the

businesses into multiple shares. Half the conservancy

shares would go to current owners, the other half to new

black owners – both would lease wildlife lands back from

the GOZ. During the following five years, former owners

would gradually pass another 30 percent to new owners and

end up with a 20-percent stake. Since some conservancies

are already black-owned, it is unclear whether the GOZ

would also subject black-owned conservancies to this

process. In its redistribution of farms, the GOZ has

generally left black-owned commercial farms untouched.

(Note: We are aware of two nature conservancies with

white American citizen-property owners that the plan

would affect.) The SAVE conservancy in Masvingo province

has been attempting to work out an arrangement with

Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo where owners would

partner with an indigenous group and avoid

nationalization of their assets.

 

Comment

——-

3. For Zimbabwe, this is big business. Wildlife areas

comprise twenty percent of the country’s farmland and

five percent of its total area. Ecotourism and hunting

could easily generate several hundred millions U.S.

dollars annually after political transition. Chaotic

fast-track land reform has already carried serious

environmental and economic consequences. While increased

indigenous ownership in the wildlife industry makes sense

in a country whose population is over 99 percent black,

we fear a hasty and haphazard approach could harm

wildlife and recovery potential. It is unlikely existing

owners would participate in a plan that makes them twenty

percent minority shareholders in the new businesses.

Many have already invested substantial resources to

restock and protect wildlife. Conservancies could

rapidly become underfunded, subjecting wildlife to

dangers such as poaching, fires, over-hunting, foot-and-

mouth viruses, insufficient water access and poor fence

maintenance.

 

Sullivan

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