Parks authority revises stinky deal

Golden Sibanda
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, which is battling to sanitise a stinky 25-year lease agreement with a South African company, has approached the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to have the irregular arrangement restructured under the Joint Venture Unit.

This comes after ZimParks had violated State tender procedures in awarding a long lease for a total of 20 of the authority’s premium lodges in Victoria Falls to Adage Safaris of South Africa, an anomaly picked by the then State Procurement Board (SPB).

The State tenders regulatory body, which was last year renamed Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ), fined Zimparks $900 for the offence and ordered it to cancel the agreement, but this instruction has not been obeyed due to legal complications.

Zimparks was ordered to end the flirtation with Adage after failing to justify how the authority had picked the investor.

But in attempts to justify the murky transaction, Zimparks had told SPB that the cash rich South Africa investor was going to invest significant amounts of capital to improve the standards of the lodges, which are located in the heart of the Victoria Falls National Park.

ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo told The Sunday Mail Business that the deal had since been referred to the Ministry of Finance’s Joint Venture Unit, in fresh attempts aimed at thrashing out a new agreement, under joint venture arrangement, with the South African company.

“The position is that we accept as an authority that a mistake was made. That is why the issue has been referred to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning’s Joint Venture Unit.

“And because there was a binding agreement, despite the fact that the SPB (now PRAZ) instructed us to cancel the agreement, it was going to be a breach of contract (if we cancelled), but the investor is willing to renegotiate.

“So what is now going to happen is a partnership under a joint venture arrangement. So the issue is now being handled by the Joint Venture Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

‘‘As such, all the anomalies are going to be taken care of under the Joint Venture Unit,” Mr Farawo said on Friday.

The Sunday Mail Business understands that attempts by the parks and wildlife authority to break the arrangement had hit a snag after Adage Safaris threatened to sue if the entity prematurely ended the irregular marriage.

But Mr Farawo said: “It was SPB who wrote to us instructing us to cancel the deal, but it was going to be difficult to cancel something that was binding.

‘‘While we were in the process of following the law to cancel the agreement, the investor offered to work with us so that we do a partnership.

“However, we cannot proceed and conclude the partnership on our own, we need to involve the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning’s Joint Venture Unit, which is looking into the arrangement, it is no longer our baby alone,” he said.

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