Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Conservation fears as wildlife park seized by Mugabe henchmen

Conservation fears as wildlife park seized by Mugabe henchmen


From the London Times


Savé Valley is a haven for the rare black rhino and the nyala antelope


Jan RaathZimbabwe

Published at 12:01AM, August 25 2012

The biggest land-grab since President Mugabe unleashed his land reform programme 12 years ago is under way.

The prize is the 1,000-square mile Savé Valley Conservancy, one of Africa’s best-managed wildlife reserves, which had been mooted as a Unesco World Heritage Site because of its rich biodiversity.

Founded in the early 1990s, it has become a major international centre for wildlife research, especially into the rare black rhino, wild dogs and nyala antelope. But now 25 senior political figures from Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party have been issued 25-year leases and hunting permits.

Those granted the leases include veteran party members previously associated with the often violent seizure of white-owned farms. They include Shuvai Mahofa, a party politburo member, Stan Mudenge, a former minister, and Titus Maluleke, the provincial governor.

Vitalis Chadenga, from the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said that the new beneficiaries would “work together with the white operators”. However, since Mrs Mahofa was allocated her lease over part of the reserve she has sacked anti-poaching staff and hired national park scouts to hunt for her.

The licensed shoots, which helped to finance the reserve, would charge up to $5,000 to shoot sable antelopes. Now their roughly butchered carcasses are being sold as cheap meat in the market in the nearby town of Chiredzi.

Mr Chadenga, who described the scheme as “part of a wildlife-based land reform programme”, said that incumbent white operators had “refused to coexist” with blacks, an accusation denied by the operators.

Diplomats say that the Government risks losing a major portion of the Western aid it depends on if the land-grab does not stop.

Zanu (PF) is reported to be deeply divided. This week Walter Mzembi, its minister of tourism, said that the action “promotes greed and alienation of our masses,” and “will not pass the moral test, nor will it endear us to the people, except to ourselves”.


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