CNRG welcomes government decision banning mining in National Parks
CENTRE FOR NATURAL RESOURCE GOVERNANCE (CNRG) welcomes the Government decision to ban all mining activities in areas held by National Parks and undertaking to cancel all mining titles held there. Mining within National Parks is detrimental to wildlife conservation and poses an ecological disaster which was going to obliterate tourism in the country. We consider the ban a step in the right direction.
Hwange National Park is a unique and an important enclave in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA). The park is home to more than 45 thousand elephants and all other animals which make up the big five that continue to attract tourists into Zimbabwe. Mining activities within Hwange National Park (Sinamatela) were going to have an inevitable impact on the Hwange-Chobe-Kazuma Wildlife Dispersal Area. Sinamatela is at the heart of the wildlife dispersal area linking Hwange (Zimbabwe) and Chobe National Park (Botswana) where Stakeholders are implementing cross border conservation programmes with four other countries, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Angola. It must be stressed that no tourist would visit Zimbabwe to check on the production capacity of a mine but they are attracted by wildlife. Moreover, communities sharing borders with conservation areas are already bearing the brunt of Human Wildlife Conflict as animals move away from the parks due to a number of human factors.
CNRG has established that there are more companies holding mining titles in the National Parks. These include Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) in Hwange National Park – Sinamatela area, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and Rusununguko Pvt Limited in Chimanimani National Park, Lagerty Investments in Chizarira National Park. There is also a yet to be ascertained company that is already mining gold at Umfurudzi Park. We pray that all these mining titles and others which are unknown to the public will indeed be cancelled.
There is a huge danger that some of the so called mining companies applying to mine in national parks are organised crime syndicates seeking to abuse mining licences in order to conduct poaching. Poaching and illegal trade in animals and animal parts and illegal trophy hunting are on the rise in Zimbabwe. Mining resources are finite and prioritising their extraction at the expense of a more stable and eco-friendly sector with a huge potential for growth is self-defeating both in the short and long term. Nevertheless the decision to ban all mining activities in national parks will go a long way in restoring confidence in Zimbabwe’s tourism and wildlife sector. CNRG continues to monitor developments in the sector closely. The current generation has the responsibility to preserve and conserve natural resources for generational sustenance.