Tourism, Mines ministries clash over Hwange National Game Park mining activities

STAKEHOLDERS across the spectrum have appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene and immediately repeal the Special Grants (SGs) awarded to ten mining companies in the Hwange National Park.

This comes amid reports of clashes between the Tourism and Mines ministry over issuance of mining grants in the game parks.

The appeal to Mnangagwa was made through a joint written statement by interested groups earlier this month.

“We humbly request that you cancel all SGs that are within the Hwange National Park and all other national parks in Zimbabwe,” read part of the letter.

“You promised to be a listening President. As our President, save our Tourism Industry and preserve the livelihoods of the millions of people within Zimbabwe and around the world,” the letter added.

Companies that have been awarded SGs in Hwange National Park are a mine owned by multi-millionaire Billy Rautenberch, two Chinese-owned mines (Efrochine Energy and Zhongxin Coal Mining Group), among others.

Zim Morning Post understands that some of the mining companies obtained their SGs without following due processes.

The concerned stakeholders told Mnangagwa that mining in the area would cause serious damage to the atmosphere and water bodies due to the effects of fossil fuels, and in the process endanger wildlife.

“Air and water pollution – caused by mining fossil fuels within Hwange National Park – will further contribute towards global warming emmissions and climate change.

“The future of Hwange residents, their families and various other stakeholders relies more on tourism and not the short-term extractive mining of fossil fuels,” read the statement.

Mining in the Hwange National Park has the potential to threaten some of the monuments in the park.

“Wildlife is our heritage, and no one should have the right to deny future generations the privilege of seeing and experiencing nature… (including) archeological sites with historic significance, history…,” the statement added.

Mining in the Hwange Nation Park appears set to destroy and violate cultural sites and ancestral shrines of the locals, thereby also demaging the cultural heritage of residents in the Hwange region,” Mnangagwa was told.

Speaking to Zim Morning Post, Simi Mlevu of Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) said the continued mining in Hwange National Park would have a negative impact on the country’s tourism industry.

“The problem is mining resources are finite while wildlife (will always) remain at the centre of tourism everywhere.

“Allowing mining at the Hwange National Park, therefore, means we are going to chase away wild animals and destroy the tourism industry which is sustainable,” Mlevu said.

The Zimbabwe Enviromental Lawyers’ Association has since applied for an urgent chamber to cancel the mining of coal in Hwange National Park.

Meanwhile, government said it would issue a statement after making consultations with relevant stakeholders.

“We take note of the ongoing discussions around the Hwange National Park and (would like to) assure the nation that government will pronounce itself within the next few days,” read a statement by the Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality ministry.