Zimbabwe to host the African elephant conservation conference

By Josephine Mugiyo, Diplomatic Correspondent

ZIMBABWE is set to host the African Elephant Conservation Conference at Hwange National Park from May 23 to May 26, with Cabinet noting its importance as the country lobbies for the lifting of the ban on ivory trade.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa who chaired the post cabinet media briefing in Harare this Tuesday, said the key output of the conference will be a ministerial declaration set to be referred to as the Hwange Elephant Declaration.

Zimbabwe and other African countries are lobbying for the lifting of the ban on ivory trade ahead of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora CITES meeting set for November.

“Cabinet wishes to further highlight that the Elephant Conference programme involves a two-day meeting of technical officials from 23 to 24 May 2022, followed by a one-day Ministerial Meeting on 26 May 2022. The key output of the Conference will be a Ministerial Declaration on African Elephant Conservation in Africa that is to be referred to as the Hwange Elephant Declaration,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

 “Government emphasises that the CITES COP 19 is critical in the country’s wildlife conservation and management programmes, especially that of elephants and stockpiled products. The outcome of the African Elephant Conference should, therefore, be mutually beneficial to all parties, including communities, wildlife, the environment and Government.

“In particular, there is need to look objectively into the issue of trade in elephant products as well as human-wildlife conflict issues in affected communities, and this Conference provides the appropriate discussion platform.”

The Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Honourable Mangaliso Ndlovu noted that it is critical for CITES to consider Zimbabwe and fellow African countries’ calls to lift the ivory trade ban and culling, adding that in five years the country will witness casualties of the ballooning elephant herd.

“If CITES closes that window we are now faced with a situation where in five years we will see more casualties and it won’t be elephants dying but people,” he said.

Away from wildlife issues, Senator Mutsvangwa also announced cabinet’s strategies to standardise the fuel procurement system.

“The nation is informed that in the immediate term, Cabinet has adopted the following strategies:

• Resumption of petrol blending at E10 from 25 April 2022, which has reduced the pump price of petrol by US$0.04 per litre. The blending will go up to E20 by end of May 2022, which will lead to a higher reduction in the price of petrol by US$0.07 per litre;

 Government intends to set up a Fuel Price Stabilisation Fund, to cushion consumers from sharp increases in fuel prices. Discussions are on-going on the modalities and timing of the Fund. Government will come up with measures to stabilise and ensure a consistent supply of fuel.”

While noting the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination blitz, Senator Mutsvangwa announced the resumption of sporting activities in schools.

“Cabinet has approved the following measures:
 1. That Provincial Medical Directors in collaboration with Provincial Education Directors submit, on a weekly basis, a list of schools in their provinces that meet the 70% second dose COVID-19 coverage;

 2. that all teams should continue working closely with community leaders to ramp up vaccination campaign activities, and encourage the most vulnerable groups, especially the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions to get vaccinated; and

 3. That all primary schools resume all sporting activities. Secondary Schools that have reached 70% COVID-19 second dose vaccination can resume non-contact sporting activities;”

Cabinet also discussed proposals of the smart city project, among other issues.