United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols has applauded the Zimbabwean government for reversing a decision to permit Chinese firms to explore for coal in the world-famous Hwange National Park.
The mining activities in the park had sparked controversy with the citizenry and other stakeholders questioning how the government had awarded the permit in the first place.
Nichols said the reversal of the deal was very significant in the promotion of sustainable national development. He said:
This was a wise decision for sustainable development and a significant step to safeguard Zimbabwe’s protected areas and ensure wildlife conservation. The decision acknowledges that transparency is vital to create an open and fair business environment in Zimbabwe, to nurture homegrown enterprises, and to attract foreign investment.
Equally important, the reversal responded appropriately to Zimbabwean citizens who had exercised their constitutionally protected rights and demonstrated the high risks of not following the country’s established environmental compliance procedures, including serious ecological degradation of wildlife habitats that bring in valuable and sustainable international tourism revenue. Democracy in action means not just holding elections but responding to citizens’ concerns between elections as well.
He added that national parks should be jealously guarded mainly because they provide valuable revenue to the national parks authority, the tourism industry, and most importantly, to the communities that live around them.
Nichols also noted that the importance of these protected places goes beyond just revenue as they “represent a magnificent piece of Zimbabweans’ heritage for all to cherish and enjoy.”