Africa roars back…Presidents demand end to ‘dubious agendas’ President Mnangagwa shares a lighter moment with his Zambian counterpart President Hakainde Hichilema during a photo session at the 2024 Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza TFCA) Heads of State Summit in Livingstone, Zambia. Looking on is President Nangolo Mbumba of Namibia

Leonard Ncube in LIVINGSTONE, Zambia

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday encouraged African nations, particularly those in Southern Africa, to speak out against those who seek to undermine African   sovereignty and harm ordinary people. 

Addressing the 2024 Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza TFCA) Heads of State Summit in Livingstone, Zambia, President Mnangagwa called for comprehensive approaches to elephant conservation and protection in light of growing human-wildlife conflict.

The summit was attended by Presidents Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia and Nangolo Mbumba of Namibia, Botswana Vice-President Slumber Tsogwane and Angola’s Minister of Tourism, Marcio De Jesus Lopes.

President Mnangagwa said Africa must be able to defend its policies at the 2025 Cites Cop20, including the ongoing ban on wildlife trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (Cites).

Kaza and other trans-frontier conservation partnerships within Sadc demonstrate the region’s solidarity and integration aspirations.

President Mnangagwa stated that Kaza had provided the Sadc region with frameworks to fulfil its commitments to achieving national and United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 

Furthermore, he underscored that through sustainable conservation efforts, Southern Africa has significantly increased its animal populations, with a Kaza aerial study estimating that there are 227 900 elephants in the region, representing half of all elephants globally. 

“This summit strengthens the legacy left behind by the founding fathers of the trans-frontier conservation area which is aimed at harmonising policies, strategies and practices for managing shared resources that straddle across international boundaries.

“As a result, we can derive equitable socio-economic benefits through sustainable use and development of our natural and cultural resources. It is this spirit of unity which will facilitate continued  beneficial cooperation and collaboration among our nations for the betterment of our people.

“Further, the Kaza TFCA has created building blocks for Sadc member states to forge closer partnerships as we implement various provisions of the several multilateral environmental agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora and other related protocols,” he said.

President Mnangagwa condemned opposition to Africa’s conservation philosophy, pointing out that those who criticise it have failed to manage their own wildlife populations and that Southern Africa, particularly Kaza, has been successful in sustainably managing its wildlife. 

“In this context, we need a common voice to defend our conservation policies, our people, and our sovereignty. In so doing, there is a need for convergence on conservation-related matters taking into account our unique circumstances and approaches to wildlife conservation. 

“The principle of sustainable utilisation has been effectively used in our region through the issuance of hunting and management off-takes to reduce our elephant population and curtail human-wildlife conflicts. Regrettably, these approaches are being resisted and opposed by some quotas on the global stage. 

“As a region, we have a proud history of wildlife conservation. We should never allow those with dubious agendas to dictate the way we manage and utilise our own God-given resources as well as the conservation models we deploy within our own jurisdictions. In this context, we need a common voice of defending our conservation policies, our people and our sovereignty,” he said.

In addition to these issues, President Mnangagwa underlined the need for significant interventions to address El Nino-induced droughts and climate change. 

He stated that to urgently combat climate change, it is necessary to improve preparedness for disaster management, construct early warning systems, reinforce infrastructure as a group, and increase community resilience through capacity building and education initiatives.

Zimbabwe is currently developing a Human-Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund to support victims of human-wildlife conflict brought about by population expansion. 

The Kaza summit, held under the theme “Leveraging Kaza’s natural capital and cultural heritage resources as catalysts for inclusive socio-economic development of the eco-region”, stressed the importance of community involvement in conservation efforts. 

Founded almost 20 years ago, Kaza focuses not just on wildlife, but also serves as a strategic development tool for rural, social and economic development, improving inclusivity, food security, and co-operation.

President Hichilema of Zambia and Vice-President Tsogwane of Botswana emphasised the need for pro-poor measures to protect livelihoods. 

“We must not compete, we must focus on complementing each other, convergence as opposed to segregation. We need to revolutionise the way we work to focus more on business, the economy, and the way we deliver issues to our people. 

“We know that politics has its place because it is the platform that takes us to public office, but sometimes we forget that the reason we are here is for the most vulnerable people,” said President Hichilema.

Furthermore, President Mbumba of Namibia urged the development of Kaza as a                                                                                                               travel destination. — @ncubeleon

 

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