Govt to amend laws to stop mining in national parks

By Tinashe Mungazi

The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality is in the process of revising the Parks and Wildlife Act to outlaw mining activities in all its national parks.  

This follows the cancelation of Special Mining Grants that had been issued to Chinese companies to mine inside Hwange National Park after an outcry from local and international wildlife conservationists over the impact mining activities would have on the sanctuary’s ecosystem. 

Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu who toured the country`s biggest wildlife reserve on Thursday, told wildlife stakeholders drawn from safari operators to conservationists that his ministry was in the process of amending the law to reflect the recent government pronouncement.

“With regards to mining in national parks, government came out clearly that it has banned with immediate effect. The minister of mines indicated that as they are concluding the review of the Mines and Minerals Act they will take steps to make sure that from a statutory point of view it becomes very difficult for such a decision to be ever taken in the future.

“It will also be complemented by our review process of our Parks and Wildlife Act, which we are in the process of reviewing to make sure it impossible for the minister to grant a no objection with regards to mining in the national park,” said Minister Ndlovu.

He said his visit was to inform the traditional leaders and stakeholders in Hwange over the President’s decision while also appreciating the impact the mining activities have caused on the environment.

“My visit is principally for three main issues first being to convey the message to the traditional leaders and stakeholders from the President on the decision taken as announced by cabinet. We also wanted to take the same opportunity to have an interactive discussion with the critical stakeholders on conservation issues and going forward how we see how it will contribute to our $5 billion tourism industry by 2025. Thirdly to come and have an appreciation of what is happening in the areas where we have been losing our elephants.”

A visit to one of the sites near Deteema Dam in Hwange National Park revealed that the Chinese companies through their consultant had begun drilling and clearing access roads.  

Tourism players said they welcomed the move but called on government to expedite the alignment of laws to reflect the recent policy pronouncements of banning mining activities in wildlife areas.

“We are excited about the swift response to something that was threatening tourism and heritage we are happy that the President has come onboard and immediately made a policy pronouncement that will ban mining in the national park not just Hwange National Park.

The tourism industry is accepting and applauds government for listening to the people’s plight in making sure we keep up with our conservation policies and attracting people to come into Zimbabwe as a destination of choice when it comes to tourism.

We are actually asking government to expedite that policy so that we can align the policy pronouncement that they have done with the Mines and Minerals Act and whatever Act so that those things can be looked at fast and adjusted to avoid a similar occurrence,” said Barbra Murasiranwa, a representative of Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe. 

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