Government threatened to nationalise Save Valley Conservancy


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The government threatened to nationalise the Save Valley Conservancy reported to be the largest private wildlife reserve in Africa and had even recommended an indigenous partner for the owners.

The conservancy was founded in 1992 by 14 separate property owners from Zimbabwe, the United States, Germany, Italy, and South Africa to breed a number of endangered species.

The government had, however, redistributed land to small-scale farmers in the southern portion of SVC, encroaching on the Conservancy and encircling Hammond Ranch, owned by an American investor, the Schenck family.

The government had also threatened to nationalise the whole conservancy, which would then be leased out for 25-year terms for wildlife resource management.

SVC’s manager, Clive Stockil,engaged with the government to seek an agreement on how to achieve both SVC’s wildlife protection and the government’s indigenisation objectives.

According to Stockil and the Schencks, SVC negotiated an indigenisation plan with Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo.

Nkomo introduced Stockil to a black-owned firm, Traditions. SVC was to include Traditions as minority partner in exchange for additional land from the government and some asset investment.

The fourteen original owners were to retain their properties but a diminished stake in the incorporated conservancy. The government would remove- and no longer resettle- A1 farmers in SVC.

But the government changed its mind when the MOU was ready for signature.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1496, WHERE “SAVE” GOES, WILDLIFE WILL FOLLOW

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1496

2004-09-02 06:37

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001496

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS, TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW,

PASS USTR FOR FLORIZELLE LISER, STATE PASS USAID FOR

MARJORIE COPSON, STATE PASS USDOI/FWS FOR RICHARD RUGGIERO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009

TAGS: SENV EINV ECON PGOV EAID ZI

SUBJECT: WHERE “SAVE” GOES, WILDLIFE WILL FOLLOW

 

Classified By: [Ambassador Christopher W. Dell for reason 1.5 d]

 

1. (SBU) Summary: After a decade of rescuing endangered

species, Save Valley Conservancy, the largest private

wildlife reserve in Africa, may now be facing its own

extinction. Land reform has encroached upon the country,s

vast wildlife lands, including those of the Conservancy.

GOZ,s decisions on Save will have a significant effect on

the future of wildlife and tourism in Zimbabwe. End Summary.

 

BACKGROUND

———–

2. (SBU) Founded in 1992, Save Valley Conservancy (SVC)

encompasses 3,420 square kilometers in southeastern Zimbabwe.

Fourteen separate property owners from Zimbabwe, the U.S.,

Germany, Italy, and South Africa have established a

conservancy constitution and administration. SVC has

successfully bred many endangered species.

 

3. (SBU) The GOZ has redistributed land to small-scale

farmers in the southern portion of SVC, encroaching on the

Conservancy and encircling Hammond Ranch, owned by an

American investor, the Schenck family. The GOZ has also

threatened nationalization of the whole conservancy, which

would then be leased out for 25-year terms for wildlife

resource management. This is an untenable business model for

the present owners. The GOZ has listed and de-listed Hammond

Ranch for acquisition on several occasions.

 

ATTEMPTED NEGOTIATIONS

————————

4. (SBU) SVC,s manager, Clive Stockil, has engaged with the

GOZ to seek an agreement on how to achieve both SVC,s

wildlife protection and GOZ,s indigenization objectives.

 

5. (SBU) According to Stockil and the Schencks, SVC

negotiated an indigenization plan with Special Affairs

Minister John Nkomo. Nkomo introduced Stockil to a

black-owned firm, Traditions. SVC was to include Traditions

as minority partner in exchange for additional land from GOZ

and some asset investment. The fourteen original owners were

to retain their properties but a diminished stake in the

incorporated conservancy. The GOZ would remove- and no longer

resettle- A1 farmers in SVC.

 

6. (SBU) Weldon Schenck stated the MOU was ready for

signature when the GOZ changed its mind. The GOZ informed

Stockil that SVC was now to negotiate with another group from

Masvingo (where SVC is located). This new group includes

Chief Chirumbira and a nephew of Josaya Hungwe, Masvingo,s

hardline Zanu-PF governor.

 

THE CURRENT SITUATION

———————-

7. (C) According to Schenck, Chirumbira and his colleagues

want aggressive nationalization, with SVC to give up 100

percent ownership of all interests (businesses, land, etc.)

now and to lease back 50 percent for a 25-year period. If

GOZ insists on such a proposal, Schenck and others would

simply pull out of Zimbabwe. Schenck said the SVC would not

agree to such a proposal and is instead playing for time,

hoping the political winds will change.

 

8. (SBU) Schenck and others have asked diplomatic missions

with interests in SVC to attend meetings with GOZ officials

and make commitments regarding possible donor assistance upon

reaching a viable negotiated settlement. While U.S. policy

precludes holding out assistance as a carrot for the GOZ, we

have been working closely with other interested missions. We

have agreed to meet and compare notes every two months.

 

COMMENT

———-

9. (SBU) SVC is now a threatened species, bordering on

endangered. If the GOZ insists on the current proposal,

Zimbabwe,s participation in a future Transfrontier Park with

Mozambique and South Africa will become unlikely. SVC is a

large chunk of Zimbabwe,s contribution to this ambitious

plan to protect endangered species.

Dell

(61 VIEWS)

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