By Nyasha N Mukapiko
Zimbabwe has a stockpile of 96 tonnes of ivory which can translate to revenue of US$9.6billion if sold. Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Oppah Muchinguri told parliamentarians this during the question and answer session on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe and other countries are currently under a moratorium spanning for nine years, prohibiting them to trade the valuable ivory on the international market.
Minister Muchinguri was responding to a motion that had been raised by Shamva South MP Joseph Mapiki querying Government policy regarding the sale of tonnes ivory in storage.
Mapiki was of the notion that if the ivories were sold it can help the country come out of its economic doldrums by settling its more than US$ 10 billion external debt.
Zimbabwe is a member of an organisation called Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which has the responsibility of overseeing the trade of ivory.
“As a country, we are preparing for the elapse of the nine years so that we may start to benefit from our ivory, we are the only countries which have these wild animals but, unfortunately, these other countries that have killed their fauna and flora are now trying to thwart our efforts”, minister Muchinguri said.
Minister Muchnguri said Government was planning to discuss the issue in September at the CITES conference so that they can be allowed to hold a once off sale, at the end of the moratorium.
Hon mapiki suggested if it was not good was for Zimbabwe to revoke its membership with CITES so that she can trade her ivory alone which Minister Muchinguri objected citing that there were a lot of advantages which came as part of being a member.
Legislator Murisi Zwizwai interjected posing a question to the minister on the guarantee which was there for Zimbabwe that it will offload the excess ivory after witnessing Kenya disposing ten tonnes through burning.
In her response minister of Environment said she was sympathising with Kenya for destroying their ivory after being lured to destroy their ivory for a promised US$300million. She also said another country which had been lured to do so was Botswana who later becomes suspicious. Muchinguri told the parliamentarians that Zimbabwe was currently manufacturing and exporting ivory products.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa bemoaned the fact that CITES had some super powers behind the ban of ivory trading who had no wildlife but making decisions for countries with.
“That’s the paradox for us Africans, rich Africans poor Africans”, Chinamasa said.
On social media, citizens took time to lash and queried government’s accountability for the ivory after US$15bilion worth of diamonds went missing under its stewardship.