Soaz chairman Jacob Mudenda told businessdigest last week that the industry operated at about 45% capacity during last season as a result of the protracted disagreements in fulfilling the GPA.
“2009 was not a very productive hunting season. Those operators in state land concession areas and areas under Campfire reported that the selling of the hunts was extremely difficult,” Mudenda said.
“The fluidity in government due to jostling over outstanding issues unsettled those who wanted to come for the hunting season as they were not sure whether they would be safe,” he said
Outstanding issues in the GPA signed by the three principals — President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara — in September last year include the swearing in of Roy Bennett as Agriculture deputy minister, the appointment of central bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, and the issue of governors
Mudenda said this was further aggravated by the disengagement of MDC-T from the inclusive government which temporarily triggered fears by potential clients of a repeat of the violence that characterised the presidential run-off elections in June 2008.
The global credit crunch last year also contributed to the decline in business during last year’s hunting season, Mudenda said. The industry had consequently operated at 45% capacity.
Mudenda urged the two parties Zanu PF and MDC to “quickly resolve outstanding issues to ensure that this year’s hunting season, which begins in May, will be a success”.
“Political stability is essential to creating a conducive environment for our activities. On that note, the outstanding issues should be resolved not only for our industry but for the economic upturn of our country,” he said.
Mudenda said the standoff between the association and the parent body, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, over the 2% levy on trophies which had been before the courts, had been resolved.
“The issue (trophy levy) was resolved out of court. It’s being paid. We reached an amicable agreement. There is very good rapport between the ZTA and the Zimbabwe Council of Tourism under whose umbrella the safari operators fall,” he said.
Mudenda said they were currently preparing for the coming season and were sending representatives to the safari marketing shows in Dallas and Reno in the US to boost business.