Powerful politicians from the disintegrating party are using factions as a means to compete for political power and to enrich themselves, writes MORGEN KULARE.
One of the beneficiaries of Mugabes chaotic and often violent land grab is the Mwenezi Rural District Council (Mwe RDC), which has an offer letter for part of Montana Ranch, one of the few profitable conservancies in the country. To date the council has nothing to show for this, thanks to the pilfering of Kudakwashe Bhaskiti, the MP for Mwenezi East and godfather of the Mavhaire faction, and Isaiah Masvayamwando Shumba, the former MP for Mwenezi when it was still a single constituency and torch bearer of the Hungwe faction in the district.
The resolution of the Mwenezi RDC at the time of receiving the offer letter for Montana Ranch was that they would get into partnership with Charles Davey, the former owner of the whole farm who was given the remaining extent of the farm. The agreement was that their part of the Montana Ranch would form their shares and no disturbances of operations would occur at the farm. The council would then get its profits when the dividends were declared.
Problems arose when Bhaskiti was elected council chairman in the September 2006 Rural District Council Elections. Bhaskiti, who at that time also doubled as the DDC chairman of the dying Zanu (PF), arm-twisted the council resolution and decided to get meat from Montana Ranch and sell it, the proceeds of which would be deposited into the council coffers.
In the days and months to come, Bhaskiti would get meat from Montana Ranch using his status as council chairman and sell it in his butchery located at Neshuro Business Centre. None of the profits were ever deposited in the council coffers. Instead Bhaskiti was using the money to campaign for the Mwenezi parliamentary seat. It is estimated that he looted 10 tonnes of game meat between September 2006 and June 2008 worth approximately US$20,000, which should have benefited Mwenezi RDC.
Bhaskiti was eventually elected MP for Mwenezi East in March 2008, paving the way for him to relinquish the post of council chairman. The new councillors who came into office repudiated the previous council resolution and decided to occupy and manage their share of Montana Ranch. This has seen Masvayamwando send his loyal supporters as managers of this council farm. The move was nothing less than countering the previous looting by Bhaskiti and his cronies. Masvayamwando has not fared better as he has sunk his teeth into the gravy train and is occasionally slaughtering wildlife at the farm without obtaining hunting quotas from the Parks and Wildlife Authority.
Currently Montana Ranch is in a sorry state and should there be no urgent intervention from the Parks and Wildlife Authority, then all the animals will be wiped out before year end. Furthermore there is urgent need to stop these two greedy men from short changing the Mwenezi RDC and villagers of Mwenezi in general.
RE of Moria Ranch
Both Masvayamwando and Bhaskiti continue to attend, deliberate and vote in Mwenezi District Lands Committee meetings, despite the fact that they are not members of this committee. At the moment they are in a tug-of-war for the Remaining Extent of Moria Ranch – a productive, irrigated citrus farm along the Masvingo-Beitbridge highway.The resolution of the District Lands Committee was that the dry land of Moria Ranch be allocated to new A2 farmers, but the homestead and citrus plantation remain with the former white owner. Now both Masvayamwando and Bhaskiti are at each others throat for the beautiful homestead and plantation. This is despite the fact that Masvayamwando owns an A2 subdivision plot in Moria Ranch (dry land) and Bhaskiti owns an A2 plot elsewhere at Malikango irrigation scheme.
After the sham one man June 27 2008 Presidential Run-off Election, Zanu (PF) attempted to resuscitate itself by embarking on a farm mechanization programme. It gathered ox drawn ploughs, ox drawn cuts and cultivators among others at the District Administrators (D.A) Office and the council hall at Rutenga Business Centre.
Instead of waiting for the distribution to be done by the D.As office, Bhaskiti took it upon himself to distribute the implements to a few cronies who had campaigned for him. This was after he had helped himself to four ox-drawn ploughs and an ox-drawn cart. One ox-drawn plough was taken in broad daylight by a powerful politician (Senator Chief Chitanga, Mavhaire faction*) from the D.As office. In the days to follow, one administrative officer from the D.As office was questioned by CID Mwenezi in connection with the missing plough, a clear sign of victimisation to cover up for this daylight theft.
A seems the looting of resources in Mwenezi District is now cancerous scourge if not treated will eat up the few remaining resources. Masvayamwando and Bhaskiti must be stopped urgently. These two men have ridden on the lack of information dissemination in the district. There is need for people of Mwenezi and the nation at large to be told the true story of how these two men are plundering resources in Mwenezi. This will definitely give voters an informed choice at polls.
Such open greed and plundering must not only be strongly condemned but resisted by villagers in Mwenezi. Masvayamwando and Bhaskiti must be reminded that they do not own the people of Mwenezi nor do they have monopoly over popular appeal. They should never take villagers for granted because one day when law and order prevails, they shall surely be called to account for their deeds and misdeeds. – Morgen Kulare is the National Research and Advocacy Officer for Youth of Zimbabwe for Transparency and Progress (YZTP).Post published in: Opinions