The generals have allegedly warned the government not to use force to eject them, threatening that such moves would result in a “mini war”.
The government, through the ministry of Environment climate and natural resources, headed by Saviour Kasukwere, had announced that with effect from July 1 this year it was going to effectively take over the sanctuary.
However, the move to hand over the wildlife sanctuary to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife by July 1 has hit a brick wall. The ruling party leaders and generals, armed with leases controversially given to them by the former parks and wildlife director-general Vitalis Chadenga, have told party stalwarts baying for their eviction to “go to hell”.
Ironically Kasukuwere, as minister of indigenisation, youth and economic empowerment, pushed for the take-over of the sanctuary by locals.
“We have cabinet ministers, including the first family, who have vast pieces of land in the country and no-one is calling for their eviction,” said a Zanu (PF) stalwart who has a lease in the sanctuary
“We will never move out unless those in government with several farms relinquish them. As I speak now, the hunting season is on and we are receiving hunters at our properties,” he added.
“Using force will not solve anything because it will worsen the situation and it will result in a war, which the state might fail to handle,” said one of the generals. “Our position is clear and we have already grouped a team of lawyers to mount court challenges in resisting eviction.”
Kasukuwere has maintained that the issue of taking over the sanctuary was a cabinet decision and government would use all methods possible to evict those refusing to leave.
“I have no powers to reverse a cabinet decision, only to enforce it,” he added.
Early this year Kasukuwere said that the government was taking over all troubled sanctuaries in the country as a way of normalising operations in the affected areas.
He said by July 1, the government would have taken over all the sanctuaries, including Save Valley. However, investigations by The Zimbabwean have revealed that not one property owner has been evicted.
Kasukuwere said that those who got hunting quarters under controversial circumstances would lose them, while property owners – most of them whites – would be paid compensation. The move would include even properties covered under bilateral agreements.
Some of the people who were given leases in the sanctuary include former Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke, former deputy minister of women’s affairs Shuvai Mahofa, and retired army brigadier generals Gibson Mashingaidze, Callisto Gwanetsa and Engelbert Rugeje.Post published in: Agriculture