ACCOLADES CONTINUE TO POUR FOR REVAMPED ZIMPARKS

IN a Cabinet memorandum dated June 10, 2019, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mtuli Ncube heaped massive praises on the management of the country’s’ wildlife management authority – the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

Professor Ncube noted some vast improvements in the manner in which Zimparks was transformed under the able leadership of its Director-General, Mr Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya, who took over the reins on August 2017.

“The team at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has managed to transform the organisation, which was previously dogged by transparency issues and allegations of poor corporate governance, into a reformed entity,” Prof Ncube said in his presentation to Cabinet.

The wildlife management authority recently clinched The Most Improved Parastatal award in 2019, thanks to a raft of measures put in place by Mr. Mangwanya and his team who has also won individual international awards for his sterling efforts in leading a team, which is looking after the country’s most treasured asset.

Zimparks was awarded the accolade at a function in Harare last week. The award came after a thorough assessment of what the organisation achieved in 2019. Some of the achievements include clearing of the legacy debt of US$25 million, purchasing of several vehicles for patrol and anti poaching as well as clearing of a 7 month salary backlog.

Before he joined Zimparks, the authority was insolvent and within two years, Zimparks managed to clear the legacy debt, which had become an elephant in the room.

When Mr Mangwanya joined the authority in 2017, employees had gone for at least seven months without salaries and that debt was cleared within a year of joining.

There is no doubt that the debt had stalled investment and conservation partnerships and over the last few years, conservation organisations have been stampeding to work with the authority. ZimParks has also managed to reduce poaching of key species like elephants, rhinos among others despite limited resources.

According to 2016 census the country has an elephant herd of slightly over 84 000 and has the second largest elephant population in the world. The continued increase of wildlife population is not an accident but a result of good management practices led by Zimparks. Whereas back in 2015, poaching cases topped 400, that number has drastically been reduced to less than 20 in 2019, translating to an 80 percent downward movement. Zimparks spokesperson, Mr Tinashe Farawo, spoke more about the significance of the debt clearance milestone. To date, the authority has managed to purchase nearly 100 vehicles for operations. Almost every station of the authority now has an operational vehicle, which has improved patrols in the fight against poaching. “The clearance of this legacy debt which the current management inherited in 2017, sets the stage for investment in better conservation and improved tourism projects,” said Mr Farawo.

“Three years back we owed about US$25 million to several businesses especially statutory bodies like NSSA and Zimra. “But the coming in of our new director-general Mr Mangwanya saw the restructuring of the debt and work began on its servicing and this resulted in the clearing of the debt by mid-December 2019.” Under Mr Mangwanya, ZimParks have opened up new business opportunities and the authority has now entered into partnerships with international organisations, a move that will drive the transformation of some of the country’s national parks. “The clearing of the debt means that ZimParks will now be able to channel more resources towards conservation efforts and ensure that our animals not only benefit the current generation, but also the future generations,” Mr Farawo added. To this end, the authority will deploy more manpower to patrol its parks and ensure wildlife safety from marauding poachers.

At the 2019 Director-General Sports Day held in Nyanga, the need to equip and empower rangers was raised, in the wake of increased threats on the lives of the people who safeguard the country’s wildlife from menacing poachers. Accordingly, there will be more investment in rangers so that they execute their duties efficiently.

Zimparks lost two game rangers who were found dead in Lake Kariba in January in a suspected murder case and the authority has also moved to boost the safety of rangers especially in poaching prone areas.
“There will also be an investment in equipment needed by rangers in executing their duties as well as investing in the authority’s infrastructure to ensure growth in receipts,” said Mr Farawo.

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