Vast tracts of wildlife land grabbed by party leaders

In what could be seem as a reward to his cronies, President Mugabe has allowed senior Zanu (PF) members to invade wildlife conservancies at Mwenezi in Masvingo.

The action has led displaced white farmers to once again cry foul over state-sanctioned racism and open discrimination.

The Masvingo provincial lands committee, then chaired by former governor Titus Maluleke, allowed senior party leaders to grab vast tracks of land, covering fragile wildlife sanctuaries, saying the move represented an indelible mark towards black advancement.

The invasions saw several white animal experts deprived of their investment and livelihood. They were ordered either to vacate the sanctuaries or enter into partnerships with new owners, none of whom were of their choice.

The new beneficiaries included Fortune Charumbira, the president of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs and a Zanu (PF) fanatic. He grabbed Quagarpen B ranch, a lucrative and professionally run entity, saying it was his natural right to do so.

The other top recipient was Major General Engelbert Rugeje, the army’s chief of staff, now at Wanezi Block in Mwenezi. Former Chivi central legislator Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana also claimed a large swathe of territory under the scheme.

Masvingo provincial administrator Felix Chikovo confirmed that several party heavyweights had been given vast tracts of land and were now armed with state offer letters as collateral security.

“The land reform exercise is a process. All we have just done is to formalise the whole thing. The offer letters were issued to some of the beneficiaries last week,” he added.

The Commercial Farmers’ Union immediately complained about the manner in which some of their members were being forced to take in senior Zanu (PF) officials as partners in businesses they took decades to develop single-handedly.

“The issue is that white property owners are being forced to incorporate senior Zanu (PF) officials into the wildlife business,” said a senior CFU official. “These partners are just incorporated without paying a single cent, and we are saying no to such daylight robbery.”

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