Monday, 3 September 2018

EU CUTS $14M FUNDING TO ZIM


The EU, one of Zimbabwe's biggest donors has suspended funding of a US$14 million conservancy project in Save Valley in Chiredzi because thousands of Zanu PF supporters illegally settled in the area are resisting eviction.

The EU project is meant to erect a fence around Save Valley Conservancy which is famed for the second largest black rhino population in Africa. The project is not only important for Zimbabwe's wildlife and tourism industry but is aimed at reducing people-wildlife conflicts that are a perennial problem in Chiredzi and parts of Bikita.

The Conservancies were invaded by landless Zimbabweans at the height of land invasions in 2002.

Both Chiredzi District Administrator (DA) Lovemore Chisema and Joseph Shoko, the chief environment officer in the Ministry of Environment confirmed the move by EU. They said they received directives to stop any further programs on the project.

"We received a directive from EU to stop any further programs regarding implementation of a project in Save Valley funded by EU. We have not been furnished with reasons," said Chisema.

Apart from erecting the fence, the Fund is meant to build schools, sink boreholes and build dams for people in the area.

Newly elected Zanu PF MP for Chiredzi North, Roy Bhila buttressed the fear when he vowed that he would not allow the 10 000 families settled in the conservancy to be moved  because they voted for him. Chiredzi North is one of the constituencies where Zanu PF performed exceptionally well garnering 36 00 votes against MDC Alliance's 3 000.

"During my tenure in office, I will not in any way allow the relocation of people from Save Valley. Wildlife is not more important than people. I am their representative and they told me that they don't want to move," said Bhila in an interview with The Mirror.

Chisema said EU told him to stop any program to do with the implementation of the project carried out by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In addition to erecting the fence, part of the funds were going to be used to establish infrastructure in the conservancy.

Chisema said that he was now waiting for communication from Government on how to proceed.

It is also believed that EU suspended the funding over Government's questionable respect for Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPA).

"They stopped the programme indefinitely, they didn't tell us but it might be due to elections. We are hopeful that we will continue since the implementing partners, FAO were on the ground and their roadmap will be presented to Cabinet," said Shoko. Masvingo Mirror

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