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Germany Threatens to Boycott Victoria Falls Tourism Conference

Germany threatened on Wednesday to pull out of the United Nations World Tourism Conference over Zimbabwe’s continued disregard of international investment agreements.

The German ambassador to Zimbabwe, Hans Gunter Gnodkte, told journalists in Harare that his country is concerned about the takeover of German investments in agriculture, wildlife and tourism that are covered by a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA).

Mr. Gnodkte said while Germany hopes the World Tourism summit to take place at Victoria Falls later this year will put Zimbabwe back on the global tourism map, continued breaches of the BIPPA may cause his government to reconsider its participation in the summit.

The ambassador cited the invasion and disruption of German investments, such as the Save Valley Conservancy, which are protected by a BIPPA, as an irresponsible activity which will affect tourism in the country.

However, he said he was optimistic that a cabinet committee, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Aurthur Mutambara, will be able to address the problem effectively.

When asked for reaction to recent statements by Lands and Agriculture Minister, Hebert Murehwa, that the government is halting the seizure of BIPPA-protected farms, the ambassador said the news was welcome, but noted that he has not yet received official confirmation of that change in policy.

Ambassador Gnodkte also addressed comments reported in the state-controlled Herald newspaper that Germans love animals more than people, saying that Germany has spent more than 1 million euros on humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe since 2009.