ZANU PF seizes another conservancy despite parly warnings

ZANU PF has seized another of Zimbabwe’s few remaining conservancies after a four year legal battle, despite warnings from parliament about the destruction of these areas.

Magistrate Jabulani Muzinyati last week ordered Terry Andres, John Taylor and Grant Hudson to surrender the Bikita based Savuli Conservancy to former ZANU PF deputy Minister for Gender and Youth, Shuvai Ben Mahofa.

Mahofa originally grabbed the conservancy under Robert Mugabe’s land grab campaign in 2007 after she and former Bikita west ZANU PF legislator, Retired Colonel Claudius Makova, got an ‘offer’ letter to take over the land. The conservationists have been fighting ever since to try and keep the property.

But their appeal against the land seizure was dismissed last week and it is understood that they have now been evicted from the land.

This court decision follows a recent damning report by a parliamentary committee, which slammed the inclusion of conservancy land in the land grab campaign. The report, compiled by MPs and other government officials, warned that this has led to the destruction of important conservation areas.

The report singled out top ZANU PF and military officials as being responsible for this destruction, stating that Zimbabwe’s conservancies were supposed to be restricted to indigenous ‘investors’ with demonstrable “interest and experience in wildlife conservation (as well as the) capacity for business development and ability to contribute to the asset base.”

Johnny Rodrigues, the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) said the takeover of Savuli Conservancy has “nothing to do with conservation,” warning that the first thing that will happen is all the animals will be killed.

“She (Mahofa) will kill all the animals and make money off that and then what? Then it will be something else. This is all based on greed,” Rodrigues said.

He explained that Mahofa already has several properties that were awarded to her “for supporting the regime.” He also said the takeover of Savuli is “criminal.”

“Even the Minister of Environment has agreed that conservancies like Savuli should be exempt, but nothing is being done. These ministers and MPs say one thing in parliament, but nothing happens on the ground and it is frightening,” Rodrigues said.

The President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) Charles Taffs meanwhile

told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the ongoing seizure of land under the pretence of either ‘reform’ or ‘indigenisation’ was destroying Zimbabwe’s future.

“We have seen and continue to see the consistent pull out of investment and unless someone steps in stops this, then Zimbabwe has no future,” Taffs said. SW Radio Africa

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