Zimbabwe is sitting on more than $9 billion worth of ivory, an amount that could turnaround the fortunes of the country should a ban on ivory trade be lifted, Parliament heard yesterday. Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said sadc was determined to lobby for the ban imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an environmental global movement, to be lifted so that the region could unlock value from its natural resources.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri was responding to a question in the National Assembly during a question and answer session. “We have 96 tonnes of ivory and if we sell it, we will realise about $9,1 billion,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.
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She said the European Union had remained adamant in seeking to maintain the ban despite the fact that the Western bloc did not have ivory, but as a sadc region they would continue to lobby the lifting of the ban in their CITES meetings.
She implored fellow legislators to lobby for the lifting of the ban each time they attend international meetings. Responding to a related question, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the $9 billion was able to liquidate the country’s debt and unlock several facilities.
“This is the paradox of Africa. There is a policy that did not come from Africa. This is food for thought for all of us because we are being stopped from disposing our ivory. “Africa is rich, but it has poor Africans. Our obligation as Africa is to interrogate why we are poor when we have these riches. I did not even know that we are sitting on $9 billion worth of ivory, even if it is $5 billion,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Responding to another question, Minister Chinamasa said the cash crisis that affected the country was a blessing in disguise in that it helped the Government to be innovative through use of plastic money.
“The cash crisis has been good in some respects. It was God-sent. It has given us an opportunity to move away from cash based situation. Even when a person wants to buy a house or a car he would move around with a briefcase with cash,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He said the $200 million facility from Afreximbank in which proposed bond notes would be introduced in October was not a loan, but a guarantee. Minister Chinamasa said Government would ensure that point of sale facilities were installed and activated in several businesses including Government ministries and departments.