In Zimbabwe, you'll remember my report last month on how hunting maybe affected by the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN) issued by the US Treasury Departments' Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The SDN is the list of foreign nationals with whom Americans are barred from conducting business. A number of Zimbabwean nationals are included on the SDN, and we have told you in the past to make sure that none of them are associated with your safari operator. You'll recall that the last update to the SDN list included Billy Rautenbach who was said to be associated with the Chewore North Concession. Well, I have learned that it was actually Rautenbach's father who was previously a director of the company that owns the lease. Rautenbach's father has since deceased and his estate is in the process of being settled. I have seen the paperwork on Chewore North and Rautenbach's name does not appear anywhere in the contract. The paperwork was brought to me by Paul Smith and Andrew Dawson of Chifuti Safaris, who operate in Chewore North as well as several other adjacent concessions, including Chewore South, for which they also produced paperwork. No one from the SDN appears on either lease contract. Smith and Dawson were accompanied by Zimbabwe's director of wildlife and parks, who assured me the paperwork was authentic. Smith says he has also provided all the necessary paperwork to the US Embassy in Harare to prove they are not associated with any SDN individuals.
The positive development here is that Zimbabwe Wildlife and Parks has agreed to liaison with the US Embassy and provide them information on who actually holds each hunting concession to help clear up questions about SDN individuals' involvement in concessions. Most of the hunters traveling to Zimbabwe these days are Americans, and there is a genuine interest by Zimbabwe Wildlife and Parks to protect that market. At the same time, it's important to understand that concessions are sold at auction to the highest bidder, and it is possible one of those bidders could be an individual on the SDN list. I will continue to follow developments........(continued)