As Hwange Tourism Stakeholders we welcome and applaud the move by government to cancel all special mining permits in all areas held by Zimbabwe National Parks.
We would like to express our profound gratitude to President Ed Mnangagwa for being a listening leader by canceling the Special Mining Grants. This is unprecedented!
We would also like to appreciate the response we received from around the world in support of our appeal to President Mnangagwa to reverse the issuing of the permits. We are all optimistic that tourism will recover and will be highly successful now that the government of Zimbabwe has assured the safeguarding of our National Parks.
We take note that had it not been for His Excellency's intervention mining activities in the Park had the potential to disrupt the following areas:
Tourism (domestic and international)
The Zimbabwe National Parks are the bedrock of tourism in Zimbabwe. At present, Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s most unspoiled tourist destinations attracting tourists from around the globe. Travel agents and tourists would have canceled their travel itineraries and tours scheduled to arrive in Hwange National Park and directed tourism instead to alternative destinations in other countries.
Hwange being a feeder destination to other tourism attractions within Zimbabwe such as Mana Pools, Binga, Msuna, Matopos, Chimanimani, Great Zimbabwe would have seen a significant reduction of tourists traveling to any part of Zimbabwe leading to loss in business and livelihoods.
Hwange National Park has historically faced severe shortage of water supply and introduction of mining activities would place a further strain on an already low water table, resulting in less water available for the wildlife. River systems originating from the affected areas stretching all the way down the Zambezi would face contamination due to the polluting effects of mining in Hwange National Park.
Assistance from wildlife partners such as managing the provision of water to the pans/waterholes within our National Parks using clean and sustainable solar energy would have been gravely affected. Environmentally friendly destinations are more desirable and mining would have affected efforts towards a sustainable green economy.
Wildlife and Conservation
Conservation efforts relating to Hwange National Park and other Parks throughout Zimbabwe would have been impacted as conservation partners and other donors from around the world would have likely cancelled or withdrawn their funding. Mining in the Sinamatella section of the Park, would have destroyed the only habitat with Black Rhino in the Matabeleland North province, which also a vital safe haven for these and other endangered and specially protected animals such as the pangolin and painted dogs.
Ivory and rhino poaching would have likely increased with the presence of mining operations while Hwange National Park (NHP) would have lost its role as a sanctuary situated in a strategic, central position in the region which is critical to the success of the KAZA Transfrontier Area (KAZA TFCA) Archeological sites with historic significance, history and culture. Hwange National Park bears cultural sites and ancestral shrines at Mtoa, Bumbusi and Shangano which desecrated would destroy the cultural heritage of the people of the Hwange region.
Human health, community and socioeconomic impact
Displacement of wildlife due to increased mining activities in Hwange would have increased human wildlife conflicts while thousands of jobs would have been lost in the tourism sector which has the potential to become a multi-billion-dollar industry for Zimbabwe.
In light of the recent developments as lodge owners, we are also forming a Board of Directors as part of the Association for Tourism Hwange, to work collectively with government on tourism interests in our region in the spirit of promoting consultation while promoting conservation and protecting our wildlife and communities.
Issued by Board Chair of the Association for Tourism Hwange
Elisabeth Pasalk Valerio