The wrangle over ownership of concessions under the Save Valley Wildlife Conservancy has reportedly sucked in Vice President Joice Mujuru and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, among other top government officials, as indigenous investors haggle with their white counterparts over the former’s demand for a free stake in the business.
While the fight intensifies, endangered wildlife species in the conservancies are increasingly in danger of extinction as poachers reportedly take advantage of the standoff, decimating them with impunity.
Parks and Wildlife Management director-general Vitalis Chadenga confirmed the poaching reports to NewsDay and said his department was lobbying for a speedy resolution to the wrangle to save animals.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing higher levels of poaching in the conservancy because poachers are taking advantage of the confusion. If this is not resolved quickly all the animals will be decimated and there would be nothing to share,” Chadenga said.
It is understood Masvingo Initiative is reportedly demanding a 51% free stake in the conservancies, saying the move was in line with the government’s indigenisation and empowerment policy.
The group, comprising Zanu PF officials and retired army personnel, was allocated leases by the Environment and Natural Resources Management Ministry.
But, the conservancy owners believe the leases were fraudulently acquired. On July 6, the two parties met but failed to reach a compromise, resulting in white conservancy owners seeking audience with Vice President Joice Mujuru, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, State Minister in Mujuru’s office Sylvester Nguni and Chadenga, among others.
“Meetings were held with Mzembi, who confirmed in our presence by phoning the Minister of Lands Dr Herbert Murerwa, that the leases held by ‘new partners’ are illegal, and in any case designated tourism areas and ventures are not subject to land reform and indigenisation,” read communication sent to the conservancy owners.
“A meeting was held with MP Nguni. The Vice President is the patron for Tourism for Zimbabwe and has been informed of the developments. A meeting was held with PM Tsvangirai, attended by Minister Nguni, Permanent Secretary in the Environment ministry, Florence Runyararo Nhekairo, who was standing in for the absent minister Nhema, and various members of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Prime Minister confirmed that conservancies were on the list of exceptions to the Land Reform Programme and Indeginisation Law.”
Nguni yesterday confirmed Mujuru was handling the matter although he declined to disclose further details.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce, Johnny Rodrigues, reported two young elephants were slaughtered by suspected “Zanu PF supporters” targeting wildlife conservancies in the Lowveld.