Zimbabwe: Save Valley Conservancy to Be Indigenized?
March 2014, Volume 12-2

The Zimbabwe Independent published an article about the “Indigenization of the Save Valley Conservancy” on January 17th. We discussed the article with Willy Pabst, a German national, owner of a large tract of land in the Conservancy and acting as Save Valley Conservancy Vice-Chairman. Willy Pabst is a member of the CIC International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation. Here are the facts on Save Valley:

34% Zimbabwe’s Save Conservancy are in black hands, about 30% are foreign investments and exempted from Indigenization. 36% of partly-white owned properties will see some 51% taken over by the Ministry of Environment as custodian of which some 10% will go to communities neighboring SVC with the option of some of the 41% handed on to investors who are supposed to pay for values created and future capital needed. The latter is being negotiated with the new Minister Saviour Kasekuwere.

Wilfried Pabst, who was quoted in the Zimbabwe Independent article as having said that the conservancy operators had signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Parks Authority to establish the national park, confirmed that he was incorrectly quoted, and insisted that the Save Valley Conservancy did not agree to a conversion into a National Park, but will remain an independent Conservancy with indigenous participation. What Pabst said was that the Conservancy was close to concluding negotiations with Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere. Pabst however emphasized that the indigenization would not affect foreign-owned properties in the conservancy, nor would it be a “freebie” where government or locals just grab properties for free.

“About 30% of the conservancy is foreign-owned and this will not be affected by the indigenization,” he explained adding that “neither will be the 34% which are already in indigenous hands. However the 51% to be the indigenized portion will come from the remainder of about 36% of the landmass of SVC, which is currently in the hands mostly of a combination of white and black Zimbabweans.” “Another criterion for these investors is that all those who already own  one farm obtained through the indigenization process will not be considered,” said Pabst “and this will eliminate the criminal part of ZANU-PF wanting to invade and steal properties”, Pabst concluded. Some Zanu PF party members, aka the “Masvingo 37”, who intended to parceling out the conservancy amongst themselves are now side-lined, according to Pabst. Pabst singled out former deputy minister Shuvai Mahofa, describing her as “notorious” after she “grabbed Savuli ranch within the conservancy and has poached many animals. She has tried to poach rhinos too,” he said. Mahofa reportedly took and destroyed some 10 farms, including Savuli and killed all animals for bush meat trade.

According to Pabst, the German KFW, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the German Foreign Office want to move forward on general plans presented by Pabst regarding a revival the entire wildlife industry in Zimbabwe, including the National Parks, provided the Government of Zimbabwe continues on a pragmatic route, stays on the legal course and meets several basic criteria of freedom of civil society, the media and the political opposition.

Author: Gerhard Damm