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Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Mugabe roped into Zimbabwe poaching war

Mugabe roped into Zimbabwe poaching war

http://nehandaradio.com

July 20, 2012 5:57 pm

By Richard Chidza

HARARE – Tourism minister Walter Mzembi has sought President Robert Mugabe 
and his deputy Joice Mujuru’s help in a vicious fight against top Zanu PF 
chefs who have invaded wildlife conservancies with the backing of some top 
army officials.

Highly placed sources told the Daily News Mzembi has been involved in a 
nasty fight with Shuvai Mahofa, a former Zanu PF MP and deputy minister over 
the invasion of a wildlife conservancy and poaching.

Mzembi fears anarchy prevailing in the conservancies will dent the country’s 
image ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general 
assembly conference which Zimbabwe is co-hosting with Zambia next year.

The event is viewed as key to jumpstarting Zimbabwe’s tourism sector which 
has suffered the brunt of bad publicity generated by a decade of political 
turmoil.

Wildlife conservation activists claimed in interviews with the Daily News 
that Mahofa had strong backing from serving and retired military commanders, 
some of whom have interests in the conservancies where poaching is rife.

Parks and Wildlife director general Vitalis Chadenga confirmed that poaching 
is rampant in the conservancies under dispute. Mzembi says he wants Mahofa, 
feared war veteran Francis Zimuto aka Black Jesus and a white farmer 
identified as Ken Drummond stopped from decimating animals in the lucrative 
ranch.

A letter sent to Mugabe and Mujuru and seen by the Daily News states that 
Mahofa is acting illegally.

“The High Court of Zimbabwe has ruled to suspend Mahofa’s lease agreement 
and that Forever African Safaris are the rightful occupiers of the ranch in 
the Save Valley Conservancy,” reads the communication.

“The World Tourism Summit is scheduled for 2013 in Victoria Falls Zimbabwe, 
yet National Parks director Vitalis Chadenga and Natural Resources minister 
Francis Nhema continue to ignore the fact that Savuli has been invaded on 
the strength of ‘documents from their offices’.”

Mzembi, who enjoys the support of local chiefs and ordinary people in the 
Lowveld, refused to comment on the dispute. He however took a swipe at 
officials who were using their political links to amass wealth at the 
expense of ordinary people.

“The nation has been witnessing the blatant abuse of well-meaning policies 
by greedy individuals who have benefited ‘70 times seven times’ from 
virtually every empowerment policy that has been pronounced,” he said.

“An indigenisation move that benefits the same persons over and over again 
immediately lends itself to scrutiny and interrogation. Instead we are 
witnessing some of the unintended consequences of well-meaning programmes 
that end up providing raison d’etre and justification for an attitude of 
entitlement and impunity fronted as empowerment by the greedy fringe of our 
society. This must be checked,” Mzembi said.

“However I am reluctant to comment on the matter before I talk to minister 
Nhema under whose ambit conservancies’ fall suffice to say I am disturbed by 
the negative impact of these developments on tourism,” said Mzembi. Chadenga 
said poaching was widespread.

“People are hunting without permits but we have instructed our Masvingo 
office to act,” he said. He however defended Mahofa, saying whites in the 
area were the ones causing problems.

“As far as we are concerned Mahofa has a valid lease and the problem that is 
in the conservancy is to do with co-existence. Mahofa got a 25-year lease 
under the Wildlife Best Land Reform Policy that seeks to open conservation 
to black Zimbabweans.

“It is true I have received protests from in particular the German 
ambassador but my response was that what we have is a co-existence issue and 
nothing more,” Chadenga said. Chadenga rubbished Mzembi’s claims that the 
dispute could affect the tourism event.

“There will be a greater threat to the UNWTO general assembly if we do not 
allow Zimbabweans with valid leases to co-exist with former white owners,” 
he said. A spokesperson for Forever African Safaris, Wilfried Pabst told the 
Daily News Zimbabwe’s hosting of the UNWTO general assembly is in danger.

“The situation is so bad and it is highly likely that several European 
countries could declare a tourism moratorium on Zimbabwe categorising the 
country as a danger to wildlife,” he said. He added the firm has two High 
Court orders against Mahofa that authorities are ignoring.

Nhema was unavailable for comment, but minister of State in Mujuru’s office 
Sylvester Nguni was angry at how the Daily News got hold of the documents.

“I am disappointed that people seeking our help see it fit to involve the 
media, waylaying the deputy president of the country into a media trap? 
“They have already passed judgement that we will not be of much help so you 
are not going to get a comment from us and I am not sure they will get much 
help,” an angry Nguni said.

A wildlife conservationist Jonny Rodrigues ,who chairs the Zimbabwe 
Conservation Task Force, also claimed the army is heavily involved. “There 
is involvement of serving and retired army generals as well as Zanu PF 
bigwigs who are using people like Mahofa and others as pawns to get 
conservancies and land.

Mahofa denied the allegation. “These people are South Africans and I cannot 
be fighting foreigners. It is my property and I do not want to see anyone. I 
was supposed to share it with retired Colonel Claudius Makova but he refused 
and now it is mine alone and I do not even want to see a soldier.

“I surrendered all other farms that I had to my children and they have their 
own leases. The poaching that is so prevalent in the conservancy is because 
whites are resisting sharing with blacks,” said Mahofa. Nhema said Mahofa 
was the rightful owner of the property. Daily News 

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