PLAYERS in the tourism sector have welcomed the move by Government to cancel Special Mining Grants issued to all companies that were mining within the Hwange National Park.
They also called for the Government to expedite the review of laws to ensure the protection of wildlife. The Government recently cancelled Special Mining Grants that had been issued to Afrochine Energy and Zimbabwe Zhongxin Coal Company after the two started coal exploration in the national park and effectively banned any mining in all wildlife sanctuaries.
The calls come as the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality said it was seized with crafting laws that would make it difficult for the issuance of a no objection mining permit.
“With regards to mining in national parks, the Government came out clearly that it has banned with immediate effect. In our discussion with stakeholders, I also indicated to Cabinet that the Minister of Mines (and Mining Development) 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 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 is impossible for the minister to grant a no objection with regards to mining in the national park,” Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said in an interview after touring Hwange National Park on Friday.
The players who included safari, lodge owners, tour operators and conservationists said although the cancellation of Special Mining Grants and banning of mining activities in wildlife areas was a welcome development there was a need to expedite the crafting of a law to cement the protection of wildlife.
“We have seen just how significant this issue is particularly to the tourism industry and we heard a tremendous outcry to save Hwange National Park. We were very happy to hear announcement from Cabinet that the mining operations and all of the grants relating to mining in HNP and all Parks within Zimbabwe had been cancelled,” said Mrs Elisabeth Pasalk-Valerio board chairperson of the Association for Tourism in Hwange.
Meanwhile, Minister Ndlovu said efforts were underway to revive heritage and cultural sites such as the Bumbusi Ruins located deep in the national park arguing that they played a part in telling the Zimbabwe story.