Soldiers take over wildlife sanctuary

Soldiers have been deployed to secure Mjingwe Ranch in Mwenezi, Masvingo, in a virtual military takeover of the wildlife sanctuary – in defiance of a politburo order to leave the conservancies alone.

Environment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere.
Environment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere.

Environment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere is reported to have summoned the occupants of the conservancies at Mjingwe, but no meeting has taken place, indicating the power still enjoyed by the military in Zimbabwe.

Sources in Mwenezi told The Zimbabwean that the soldiers, acting on instructions from their bosses who want to take over the sanctuary, were sent to Mjingwe last week. “Scores of soldiers from the Airforce of Zimbabwe and ZNA (Zimbabwe National Army) are now on the ground. We have gathered that have been sent to intimidate the owner and protect the ranch so that top military guys can effectively take it over,” said one source.

The soldiers have reportedly told the game scouts at the sanctuary to report to them for instructions on anything they may wish to do. “The main people behind this deployment are bosses in both the Airforce and ground force, hence the nature of deployment,” added another.

The army generals recently moved in to take control of the ranch from Darryl Collett, who is in a partnership with local traditional chiefs and South African investor, Alastair Forsyth.

The Zanu (PF) politburo has ordered invaders to leave the conservancies in Masvingo alone, but the decision is yet to be ratified by cabinet. Most of the occupiers, who were initially given 25-year leases, are army generals and have vowed to stay put until a comprehensive land audit is conducted.

Police bosses are also eyeing the sanctuary, with Assistant Commissioner Elliot Muswita among those threatening to forcefully occupy the property. Army spokesperson, Alphios Makotore, was not reachable for a comment while Kasukuwere was not responding to calls.

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