Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona is currently leading a US delegation to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, and Namibia to talk to the private sector, representatives of civil society, and #Government officials. The US Embassy said in a statement that the delegation’s objective is to carry out a fact finding mission with the emphasis on regional security and wildlife conservation concerns.   

Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe visit was set to explore the US-Zimbabwe bilateral relationship. The Zimbabwe Minister of Environment indicated that there were issues with the USA following the ban on the importation of elephant trophies from commercial hunting operations in Zimbabwe.  The delegation met with President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday, and a source told the Herald Newspaper that whilst there was some talk about the rule of law, sanctions, and land resettlement issues, the main focus of the meeting was to address issues relating to wildlife preservation. Senator Flake reportedly said that the meeting had been at Mugabe’s invitation and that they were “pleased with the meeting."

Mozambique

The delegation visited neighboring Mozambique before arriving in Harare. Following meetings in that country, Flake said that the focus in that country was the escalation of violence between the feuding parties in the country. Flake said peace should “be established” in the country. Last week it was reported that there had been shots fired along the main route through the Sofala province. Tourism is an important aspect of conservation and if war is renewed in the country, conservation progress and recent attempts to combat the poaching of wildlife will be compromised by conflict

Botswana

The US delegation is en-route to Botswana today (February 17th). In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was explained that the main mission was to address “challenges caused by wildlife poaching," but that there will probably be some discussion on regional security and economic issues. It is expected that the visit to Namibia will focus on the same wildlife conservation challenges.

Block of four countries faces poaching challenges

Namibia, Botswana and, Mozambique all share borders with Zimbabwe. The block of four countries has vast natural resources and wildlife preservation areas. In many instances, they work together with cross-border frontier parks. The challenges to the future of wildlife as a sustainable natural resource in the region will require a tremendous amount of co-operation between the countries, foreign investment, peace, stability, and a clear mandate to eradicate the poaching that's becoming insupportable.

Senator Jeff Flake has been involved with Africa in the past. He served on a Mormon mission to Southern Africa before graduating from Brigham Young University. In the 1980's, he was involved in the independence process of Namibia and was the Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in that country. #News