Another Zim conservancy seized

Another wildlife conservancy in Zimbabwe has been seized by ZANU PF supporting land invaders, in defiance of parliamentary warnings that the areas need protection.

About 500 party supporters, led by a war vet identified only as ‘Comrade Shorty’, have invaded the Ruware Ranch in the Chiredzi River Conservancy. Shorty was quoted by the NewsDay newspaper as insisting that they were not ‘invading’ but occupying land given to them 12 years ago. The newspaper also reported that the land invaders were accompanied by representatives from the ZANU PF Lands Ministry.

The seizure of Rawure follows a court decision to allow the Savuli Conservancy in the Save Valley to be handed over 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. Conservationists had been fighting ever since to try and keep the property, but this battle was then lost in April.

The Chiredzi River Conservancy and the Save Valley Conservancy have been worst hit by the onslaught of illegal settlers who have targeted conservation land, with thousands of people moving in and attempting to clear the land for crops. This has resulted in widespread destruction with hundreds of thousands of animals being killed.

The destruction has also been raised as a key point of concern in parliament, with warnings about how these ongoing invasions were set to affect Zimbabwe’s remaining protected areas.

A recent report by the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism identified Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge and several top military and political figures as the individuals behind the destruction of Save Valley Conservancy.

The report says the forced seizure of the conservancy by top political and military figures with “no interest (or) experience in wildlife conservation” had resulted in massive destruction of the conservancy.

But no attention has been paid to these warnings, and land continues to be seized. SW Radio Africa

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